Biden administration officials on Monday expressed concern over the unfolding violence in Iraq, but denied that staff had been evacuated from the US embassy in Baghdad.
John Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, called reports of nationwide unrest “disturbing” and expressed concern that “Iraqi institutions are not allowed to operate.”
But, Kirby said, reports that the US embassy is under threat are “false”.
“There is no ongoing evacuation at the embassy and no directions will be needed at this time,” Kirby told reporters on a call Monday.
Media reported that several people were killed and several injured in clashes in Baghdad’s Green Zone after Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his intention to retire from political life.
CNN reported on 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 of the Iraqi capital.
The United Nations (UN) Assistance Mission in Iraq has urged protesters to leave the Green Zone and evacuate government buildings.
“Today’s developments are an extremely dangerous escalation,” the UN mission tweeted. “State institutions must function unhindered in the service of the Iraqi people, in all circumstances and at all times. Respect for the constitutional order will now prove vital.