Shafaqna Pakistan:A US Black Hawk helicopter has reportedly been circling over the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad as a whole host of American gunships violated the Iraqi capital’s skies in fresh military escalation that follows angry protests in front of the US mission.
Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen news channel reported the development on Thursday, citing Abu Reza al-Najjar, a commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), as saying that the aircraft had been flying over Baghdad during the previous three days for around 20 hours each day.
The escalation came after thousands of demonstrators broke into the Green Zone, and reached the US embassy’s building on Tuesday, venting outrage at a set of US airstrikes against the PMU in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, which killed nearly 30 of its fighters and injured over 50 others.
Chanting “Death to America” and burning US flags, the protesters held up signs calling for the US diplomatic mission to be shut down and for the parliament to order US forces out of Iraq.
The American reinforcements are part of 750 extra troops, which have been assigned for rapid deployment in the Middle East.
Also on Tuesday, three US defense officials told Fox News that — in the wake of the mass protests — the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers, known as the Deployment Ready Brigade (DRB), was issued orders to prepare for possible deployment in the days ahead in Kuwait.
Reuters cited two Iraqi Foreign Ministry sources as saying that the US ambassador and other staff were evacuated amid the protests.
According to al-Mayadeen, the US copters have been flying over parts of the capital that lie well outside the Green Zone, including the whereabouts of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in the city’s Salhiya neighborhood.
The channel said the patrols constituted violation of the Iraqi airspace as the American aircraft were not being accompanied by any Iraqi ones during the overflights.
The helicopters were also releasing hot air balloons across Baghdad’s skies, a tactic supposedly meant to fend off the threat of thermal missiles.
Observers, however, denounced the patrols as provocative and said Washington has ordered them to create the impression that it does not fully trust Iraq’s security apparatuses.
They also called the overflights an instance of militarization of areas, which are used for housing diplomatic missions and Iraqi government institutions.
Ahmad Sharifi, an Iraq affairs analyst, said the helicopters had been placed “on war footing” during the missions.
The “dramatic” display, he added, was meant to indicate Washington’s “concern” about the security of the US Embassy, he added.
The US invaded the Arab country in 2003 under the pretext of “war on terror,” causing it to plunge into a cycle of violence, which continues to this day.