Iraqi protesters withdrew from the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on the second day of demonstrations against deadly U.S. airstrikes last weekend, U.S. officials said.
"All protesters withdrew from the area in front of the US embassy and left the Green Zone. The embassy is now completely surrounded and secured by security forces," the Joint Operation Command said Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. security forces had fired tear gas into the crowd.
"The situation around Embassy Baghdad has improved," a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday. "We appreciate the effective measures the Government of Iraq has taken to improve the situation and to prevent further attacks against our diplomatic mission."
On Wednesday, 250 to 300 protesters gathered outside the compound walls, where Iraqi security forces had also assembled to protect the integrity of the embassy, a senior Iraqi security official told NBC News on condition of anonymity.
Video circulated on social media that appeared to show protesters scaling a compound building, and agencies published video of what appeared to be demonstrators throwing stones at embassy buildings. It was unclear whether the protesters were militia members, their supporters or both.
Kataeb Hezbollah, also known as the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, is separate from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. It operates under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned militias, known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
''The American troops in Iraq are supposed to either train Iraqi forces or to combat terrorism. But the killing of members of the Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces], this is something unacceptable," Mohamed Al-Haydari, the director of doctrinal guidance for the forces, told Reuters.
"So, for this reason, we are coming here, until the U.S. troops leave Iraq," he added.
Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said the Trump administration's decision to strike the militia to send a message to Iran was "monstrously miscalculated."
"It provided Iran with a breathing space in Iraq after months of mass protests criticizing Iranian interference in the country's internal affairs," he said. "It united most political forces in Iraq against the U.S."
Massive anti-government protests have raged across Iraq since October, fueled by anger at widespread corruption and economic mismanagement, as well as Iran's heavy influence over the country's internal affairs. The uprisings prompted the resignation in November of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who is still serving as a caretaker.
Gerges said there was "a real danger that the shadow war between the U.S. and Iran might escalate into a direct confrontation" in 2020. In Iraq, Iran has a strategic advantage over the United States, having co-opted allies and armed militias in the country, he said, adding: "The U.S. has a weaker hand."