The U.S. on Friday condemned violence against diplomats in the Iraqi city of Basra, which has been gripped by protests that have turned deadly in recent days.
State Department Spokeswomen Heather Nauert said in a statement that under the Iraqi constitution, the right to peaceful protest and the duty to protect public and private property go hand in hand.
"The United States condemns violence against diplomats, including that which occurred today" in Basra, said Nauert.
The statement comes after an angry mob stormed the Iranian consulate in Basra Friday evening before setting the building alight.
Only one day earlier, demonstrators attacked several government buildings in the city, including Basra’s provincial headquarters and the state television broadcast building.
"We call on all parties, including security forces and protesters, to uphold the right of peaceful protest and to protect diplomats and their facilities," she added.
Since July 9, Iraq’s Shia-majority central and southern provinces -- especially Basra -- have been rocked by protests to demand better public services, more job opportunities and an end to government corruption.