Pompeo: Hezbollah 'thugs' telling Iraqi security forces to stop protecting US Embassy in Baghdad

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Saturday that the Iranian-backed militia Kataeb Hezbollah is telling Iraqi security forces to abandon their "duty to protect" the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and other locations where Americans work with Iraqis.

"Iranian-owned [Kataeb Hezbollah] thugs are telling Iraqi security forces to abandon their duty to protect [the U.S. Embassy Baghdad] and other locations where Americans work side by side with good Iraqi people," Pompeo said. "The Iranian regime telling Iraq’s government what to do puts Iraqi patriots' lives at risk."


Pompeo went on to say Saturday that the Iraqi citizens want to dissociate from Iran.

"The Iraqi people want out from under the Iranian yoke; indeed, they recently burned an Iranian consulate to the ground," Pompeo added.

Last week, the U.S. military carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria -- days after a U.S. defense contractor was killed at a military compound in a rocket attack.

U.S. officials have blamed the militia for a rocket barrage that killed a U.S. defense contractor, wounded four U.S. troops and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

Military fighter jets conducted "precision defensive strikes" on five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman had told Fox News. Two defense officials said U.S. Air Force F-15s carried out the strikes.

On Saturday, President Trump issued a stern warning to Iran through a series of tweets to deter the country from retaliating after the U.S.-ordered airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Thursday.

Trump said the U.S. has targeted "52 Iranian sites" that the U.S. military will hit if Iran retaliates.

Fox News' Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.