Person flashing victory sign above large crowd (© Hadi Mizban/AP Images)
The Iraqi people have been demonstrating against Iranian influence in their country, including a protest seen here in Tahrir Square in October. (© Hadi Mizban/AP Images)

The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was conducted by Iran-backed terrorist groups and orchestrated by the Iranian regime. These groups are not the same as the peaceful protesters decrying the corruption exported to Iraq by the Iranian regime. In fact, the same terrorist groups that stormed the embassy are responsible for targeting and killing ordinary Iraqis.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said the December 31 attack against the U.S. Embassy “should not be confused with the legitimate efforts of the Iraqi protesters who have been in the streets since October working for the people of Iraq to end the corruption exported there by the Iranian regime.”

For months, the Iraqi people have been demanding an end to Iran’s meddling. Since early October, thousands of Iraqi demonstrators have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest Iran’s destabilizing influence in Iraq and government corruption.

The secretary called them “real protesters, not Iranian-backed militiamen who’d been directed to go to the embassy by Qasem Soleimani.”

“This was an Iranian-backed rogue militia acting to deny the Iraqi people their basic sovereignty,” Pompeo said. He said the group cooperates with Iran’s regime to spread terrorism in the Middle East.

The raid follows the Iranian-backed terrorist group’s repeated attacks against an Iraqi base supporting the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The group on December 27 launched as many as 30 rockets at the base, killing a U.S. civilian contractor and injuring U.S. soldiers and Iraqi personnel.

The U.S. responded with defensive air strikes against Iran-backed terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, including Kataeb Hezbollah. The Trump administration has emphasized it will not tolerate attacks on U.S. citizens, its military or its allies.

“We will continue to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable wherever we find their malign activity,” Pompeo said.