The U.S. ambassador to Iraq will return to the embassy in Baghdad, a State Department official told The Hill on Tuesday, denying reports that the ambassador had been evacuated amid an attack by Iraqi protesters on the U.S. compound in the capital city.
According to the official, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matt Tueller was away from the embassy on previously scheduled personal travel as the area came under assault by protesters who got beyond heavily fortified walls, past a main door and set fire to a reception area, according to reports.
U.S. personnel are secure and there has been no breach, the official continued, and there are no plans to evacuate the embassy.
“We have made clear the United States will protect and defend its people, who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq,” the official said. “We are closely monitoring the situation in Iraq and call on the Government of Iraq to protect our diplomatic facilities per their obligations.”
The State Department further emphasized that it draws a distinction between the protesters who attacked the embassy and Iraqis who have risen up over the past few months in popular protests against Iranian influence in Iraq and poor economic conditions.
“The Iranian backed demonstrations in front of the U.S. Embassy should not be confused with the Iraqi protestors who have been in the streets since October to decry the corruption exported to Iraq by the Iranian regime," the person said.