Protesters—including members and supporters of Iranian proxy Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH)—ended their efforts to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, after a spokesman for the U.S.-designated terrorist group ordered the demonstrators to disperse. The withdrawal was reportedly conditioned on Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, agreeing to move ahead with legislation to force American troops from Iraq. Abdul-Mahdi resigned in November but is currently serving as a caretaker leader.
The two-day siege on the U.S. Embassy came after the United States launched airstrikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria, killing 27 militia members. The U.S. targeted KH after the Iraqi government failed to prevent a series of attacks against bases across the country with American forces, including a December 27 assault on a military base in Kirkuk, killing a U.S. contractor and wounding U.S. soldiers.
KH is an Iranian-sponsored, anti-American Shiite militia operating in Iraq with ancillary operations throughout Syria. During the U.S.-led war in Iraq that began in 2003, KH earned a reputation for planting deadly roadside bombs and using improvised rocket-assisted mortars (IRAMs) to attack U.S. and coalition forces. According to U.S. diplomat Ali Khedery, KH is responsible for “some of the most lethal attacks against U.S. and coalition forces throughout the [U.S.-led war in Iraq].”
In January 2018, KH, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and the Badr Organization joined with other Shiite units to form the Fatah Alliance political party ahead of Iraq’s May 2018 elections. The alliance won 47 parliamentary seats in the election, though the parliament soon after called for a manual recount. KH is the only Iraqi Shiite militia designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.