Iraqi army soldiers are deployed in front of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 1, 2020, after Iran-backed protesters withdrew from the compound.
Iraqi army soldiers are deployed in front of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 1, 2020, after Iranian-backed protesters withdrew from the compound.

The situation at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq's capital was quieter Thursday after Iranian-backed paramilitary groups left the area.

The withdrawal brought to a close a two-day standoff that began with militiamen and their supporters attacking the embassy compound, wrecking a reception area, setting several fires and writing graffiti as they protested against U.S. airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia group.

Those strikes, which took place in Iraq and Syria against Kataeb Hezbollah, came in response to the killing of a U.S. contractor in a rocket attack.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Kataeb Hezbollah's leader and others he called "terrorists" for orchestrating the Baghdad embassy assault.

Consular operations were suspended and the State Department warned U.S. citizens to stay away from the site.

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told CNN Wednesday, "Our diplomats are safe and so is our embassy."

However, the Pentagon is sending an additional 750 troops to the Middle East in what Defense Secretary Mark Esper called "an appropriate and precautionary action."

Pompeo is postponing a five-nation European and Central Asian tour, which was supposed to have begun Friday in Ukraine.

A State Department spokeswoman said Pompeo "needs" to be in Washington "to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East."

Protesters are seen through broken windows of a burned checkpoint in front of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 1, 2020.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Kataeb Hezbollah's leader and others he called "terrorists" for orchestrating the Baghdad embassy assault.

Consular operations were suspended and the State Department warned U.S. citizens to stay away from the site.

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told CNN Wednesday, "Our diplomats are safe and so is our embassy."

However, the Pentagon is sending an additional 750 troops to the Middle East in what Defense Secretary Mark Esper called "an appropriate and precautionary action."

Pompeo is postponing a five-nation European and Central Asian tour, which was supposed to have begun Friday in Ukraine.

A State Department spokeswoman said Pompeo "needs" to be in Washington "to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East."

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