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Image source: Reuters

The US embassy compound in Baghdad has been attacked by protesters angered by recent deadly US air strikes targeting an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia.

US troops fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that breached the outer wall of the embassy, which is in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

A guard post on the street nearby was also set alight.

President Donald Trump accused Iran of “orchestrating” the attack and said it would be “held fully responsible”.

At least 25 fighters died when the US bombed bases associated with the Kataib Hezbollah militia in western Iraq and eastern Syria on December 29.

The US said it was retaliating for a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk on December 20 that killed an American civilian contractor.

Iraq’s PM Adel Abdul Mahdi said on December 30 that the strikes had violated his country’s sovereignty and would force it to review its relations with the US.

Kataib Hezbollah’s commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, warned that the militia’s response “would be very tough on the American forces in Iraq”.

Iran described the attacks as a “clear example of terrorism”.

The protest took place on December 31 after funerals were held in Baghdad for the militia fighters who were killed in the US strikes.

Thousands of mourners – including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and several other senior militia and paramilitary leaders – marched towards the Green Zone, where many Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies are located.

They were allowed by Iraqi security forces to enter the zone and gather on a street outside the US embassy compound.

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Waving Kataib Hezbollah and other militia flags, and chanting anti-American slogans, the protesters threw stones at the compound’s main gate, pulled down security cameras, attacked empty guard posts, and started several fires.

The situation later escalated when the embassy’s wall was breached.

The Associated Press reported that a gate used by cars was smashed open and that dozens of people pushed about 16ft into a corridor leading to the main embassy building before being forced to retreat by tear gas fired by US troops.

Iraqi soldiers and riot police were reportedly later deployed in the area, and PM Adel Abdul Mahdi told the protesters to leave the compound immediately.

He added: “Any aggression or harassment of foreign embassies will be firmly prohibited by the security forces.”

The Popular Mobilization, a paramilitary force dominated by Iran-backed Shia militias, reported that 20 protesters were wounded by live rounds and tear-gas canisters.

According to Al-Sumaria website, Kataib Hezbollah meanwhile called for protest in front of the embassy until it was closed and the ambassador was expelled from Iraq.

President Trump tweeted: “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

There was no immediate response from the Iranian government.

It was not clear whether civilian staff were inside the compound during the attack.

There were reports that the US ambassador, Matthew Tueller, had been evacuated.

Over ninety teenagers have been killed in recent months by Iraqi militias who consider them to be devil worshippers, human rights activists claim.

The young people are described as “Emos”, a term used in the West to refer to youths who listen to rock music and wear alternative clothing.

Reports say that up to 58 teenagers have been beaten to death or shot in the last month, most of them men.

Iraq’s interior ministry recently described Emos as devil worshippers.

In Iraq, the term Emo is also conflated with homosexuality, which although legal is socially and religiously taboo.

Militias in Baghdad’s conservative Shia neighborhood of Sadr City have distributed leaflets with the names of 20 young people they say should be punished.

In a statement on his website, Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr described Emo youths as “crazy and fools”, but said they should be dealt with within the law.

“They are a plague on Muslim society, and those responsible should eliminate them through legal means,” he said.

Over ninety teenagers have been killed in recent months by Iraqi militias who consider them to be devil worshippers, human rights activists claim

Over ninety teenagers have been killed in recent months by Iraqi militias who consider them to be devil worshippers, human rights activists claim

Mustafa, a young Iraqi, said he feels “threatened” when he wears black clothing.

“The Iraqi people look at you in a bad way,” he said.

“It is even worse when the Iraqi security for example arrest those in black or in the Emo groups.”

The interior ministry said it had not recorded any anti-gay or anti-emo killings, but said recent murders in Baghdad could be attributed to “revenge, or social, criminal, political or cultural reasons”.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, based in New York, told Agence France Presse that nearly 40 people have been kidnapped, tortured or killed in Iraq since February in a “new surge of anti-gay violence”.

What is “Emo”?

Described as both a cult and sect, its name derives from the word “emotional”.

Its teen followers dress in black, favoring tight jeans, T-shirts, studded belts and sneakers or skater shoes.

Hair is often dyed black and straightened, and worn in a long fringe brushed to one side of the face.

Music also plays a critical role, Emos like guitar-based rock with emotional lyrics – bands such as My Chemical Romance, Jimmy Eat World, and Dashboard Confessional are particular favorites.

They regard themselves as a cool, young sub-set of the Goths.

With the trend come accusations of self-harming and suicide – something its followers strongly deny.