The U.S. Army used two AH-64 Apache helicopters from 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, as a show of force after attacks hundreds of protesters at U.S. embassy compound in Bagdad.
AH-64 Apache helicopters conducted overflights of the in Baghdad‘s Green Zoneand deploy flares over protesters.
“The helicopters launched flares as a show of presence while providing additional security and deterrence against protestors,” the U.S. Army message states.
The official said Apaches would remain available to help secure the embassy as long as they were needed and more troops had been ordered to prepare to deploy should they be needed. However, the official would not reveal how many troops in total were now at the embassy.
U.S. Army Apache helicopter dropping flares while flying over the U.S. embassy in Baghdad
Video by Staff Sgt. Desmond Cassell pic.twitter.com/k2LTVq8xxw
— Dylan Malyasov (@DylanMalyasov) January 1, 2020
The protests came one day after PMF groups vowed retaliation following the U.S. airstrikes Sunday on five locations in Iraq and Syria housing Iranian-backed Kataeb Hezbollah militia, which U.S. officials blamed for the deadly attack at Kirkuk and nearly a dozen similar attacks on bases housing American and anti-ISIS coalition forces in Iraq. The strikes Sunday killed at least 25 militiamen, the AP reported.
Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, on Monday labeled Kataeb Hezbollah a “rogue militia” closely tied with Iran’s elite Quds Force, which conducts most of Iran’s military operations outside its borders.
“They are not acting in the interests of the Iraqi people,” Hook said of the militia. “They are violating Iraq’s sovereignty.”