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'This Will Never, Ever Be a Benghazi': Trump Responds Forcefully After US Embassy Attack in Iraq

01-01-2020
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U.S. soldiers stand guard on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad against pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters, Jan. 1, 2020.  (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
U.S. soldiers stand guard on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad against pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Marines fired tear gas to disperse pro-Iran protesters who surrounded the US embassy compound in Iraq for a second day. 

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that an infantry battalion of about 750 soldiers has been authorized to deploy to the Middle East after hundreds of Shiite militiamen and protesters attempted to storm the embassy Tuesday. The protesters trashed a reception area and smashed windows in one of the worst attacks on a US diplomatic mission in years.

From his Mar-a-Lago resort, President Trump blamed Iran for the attack and praised the US military for responding quickly.

"I think it's been handled very well," said Trump. "The Marines came in. As soon as we saw there was potential for problem, they got in and there was no problem whatsoever."

The president was also adamant that the incident would not be a repeat of the 2012 Benghazi attack in Libya that left four Americans dead under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"As you know, this will not be a Benghazi," he said. "Benghazi should never have happened. This will never, ever be a Benghazi."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) praised President Trump's response.

Graham also tweeted: "Very proud of President @realDonaldTrump  acting decisively in the face of threats to our embassy in Baghdad. He has put the world on notice - there will be no Benghazis on his watch."

The protestors are raging against deadly US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that reportedly killed 25 members of an Iranian-backed militia over the weekend. Those strikes were made in retaliation for a militia attack that killed a US contractor last Friday at an Iraqi army base.

Militias in Iraq, backed by Iran, have launched numerous rocket attacks on bases housing US forces amid growing tensions in the region between the US and Iran.

By early evening Tuesday, the protestors had retreated from the compound but set up tents outside where they planned a sit-in. American Apache helicopters flew overhead, dropping flares as a show of force, warning protestors to back off after they had chanted "death to America" and "death to Israel."

Meanwhile, a State Department spokesperson says there are no plans to evacuate the embassy. 

 

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