White House calls violence in Iraq ‘disturbing’ but says embassy not being evacuated

AP Photo/Anmar Khalil
Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gather during an open-air Friday prayers at Grand Festivities Square within the Green Zone, in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

Biden administration officials on Monday expressed concern about the violence unfolding in Iraq but denied that personnel were being evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, called reports of unrest throughout the country “disturbing” and expressed concern that “Iraqi institutions are not being allowed to function.”

But, Kirby said, reports of the U.S. Embassy being under threat are “false.”

“There’s no evacuation going on at the embassy and no indication that’s going to be required at this time,” Kirby told reporters on a call on Monday.

Media reports indicated that multiple people were killed and several were injured in clashes in the Green Zone in Baghdad after Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced he plans to withdraw from political life.

CNN reported Monday that security forces fired tear gas and bullets as a crowd of protesters forced their way inside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified area in the Iraqi capital.

The United Nations (U.N.) Assistance Mission in Iraq urged protesters to leave the Green Zone and vacate government buildings.

“Today’s developments are an extremely dangerous escalation,” the U.N. mission tweeted. “State institutions must operate unimpeded in service of the Iraqi people, under all circumstances and at all times. Respect for constitutional order will now prove vital.”

Tags Baghdad Biden Iraq John Kirby Muqtada al-Sadr
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