Iran blames Baghdad for failing to protect Najaf consulate
Iran said on Nov. 28 the Iraqi government is responsible for protecting its consulate in the holy city of Najaf, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, a day after Iraqi protesters attacked and set fire to the building.
"The Iraqi government is responsible to secure safety of diplomatic missions and diplomats in Iraq ... Tehran strongly condemns the attack and demands the Iraqi government's firm response to the aggressors," State TV quoted Mousavi as saying.
In a new level of violence in demonstrations aimed at the downfall of an Iran-backed government, Iraqi protesters on Wednesday stormed and torched the Iranian consulate in the southern city of Najaf.
Iran's state news agency IRNA said staff at the consulate, who had evacuated shortly before demonstrators broke in, were "safe and unharmed". Iraq has condemned the attack.
Meanwhile, Iraq condemned the attack, its state news agency said early on Novç. 28, citing the foreign ministry, after the building was stormed and set ablaze by Iraqi protesters the previous day.
Nov. 27's attack was 'aimed at damaging the historical relations between Iraq and Iran and with the rest of the countries', the ministry said in a statement.
"Diplomatic missions operating in Iraq are highly respected and appreciated," it added, stressing that the incident did not reflect Iraq's perspective.
Iraqi protesters stormed the Iranian consulate in the southern city of Najaf and set fire to the building on Nov. 27 bringing a new level of violence to demonstrations aimed at the downfall of a government backed by Tehran.
It was the strongest expression yet of the anti-Iranian sentiment of Iraqi demonstrators, who have taken to the streets for weeks in Baghdad and the Shi'ite Muslim-majority south - and have been gunned down in their hundreds by Iraqi security forces.
Staff at the consulate had evacuated shortly before demonstrators broke in, police and civil defense first responders said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Local authorities imposed a curfew following the incident, state media reported.