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Iraqi security forces stand guard near Bahraini embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, June 27, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Baghdad: More than 200 demonstrators broke into the courtyard of Bahrain’s Embassy in Baghdad and took down the kingdom’s flag on Thursday night to protest a US-led meeting in Bahrain on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Police used live rounds to disperse the crowd, police sources told Reuters, with no injuries reported.

“We used our vehicle loudspeakers to encourage protesters to leave the compound,” a police officer stationed near the embassy said. “After they refused, police had to fire into the air.”

One protester, who identified himself as a member of the Islamic Resistance Groups, a term usually used by Iranian-backed militias, said they wanted to send a strong statement.

“We took down the Bahraini flag to send a clear message to all those who participated in the Bahrain conference, that we strongly reject normalising relations with the Zionist occupiers and will never abandon our support of Palestinians,” said the protester, who identified himself as Abu Murtadha Al Moussawi.

“We are ready to fight for this.” Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Iraq for consultations on Thursday after the protests.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain condemns the attack on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Republic of Iraq by the demonstrators (which) led to sabotage in the embassy building,” a statement on the ministry’s website said.

UAE condemns storming of embassy

The UAE strongly condemned the storming of the embassy compound.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) labelled the storming as a blatant violation of diplomatic norms and conventions, and called on the Iraqi government to live up to its responsibility towards international obligations and conventions which guarantee diplomatic security and immunity.

The ministry underlined the necessity of protecting the premises of diplomatic missions and ensuring their safety under international law and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“The UAE re-affirms its categorical support for the Kingdom of Bahrain vis-a-vis all menacing threats to its security and the safety of its diplomatic missions,” added the statement.

While denouncing all attempts to spark protests by some parties against Bahrain, the Ministry expressed concern over the security of diplomatic missions in Iraq.

The Iraqi government also condemned the protesters, and expressed “its deep regret” over the security breach at the embassy.

“The government of Iraq affirms its absolute rejection of any acts which threaten diplomatic missions, their safety and the security of their personnel,” said in a statement.

On his part, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash said: "The attack on the Embassy of the brotherly Kingdom of Bahrain in Baghdad is unacceptable and reprehensible and a dangerous escalation at the legal and political level, and we call on the Iraqi government to fulfill its responsibilities and legal obligations to protect diplomatic work and the mission headquarters in the capital and Iraqi cities."