U.S. Deploying 750 Soldiers After Protest at U.S. Embassy in Iraq
The United States is immediately deploying about 750 soldiers to the Middle East in response to the violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday.
Esper said in a statement he had authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division. Apart from the immediate deployment, additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days, he said.
"This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today," Esper's statement said.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 750 troops would initially be based out of Kuwait. The officials said that as many as 4,000 troops could be sent to the region in the coming days if needed.
– Marines deploy to Baghdad
December 31, 2019–
U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys drop off Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command Marines at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/RgBTMVAKCg
— Dan Scavino Jr.🇺🇸 (@Scavino45) January 1, 2020
More than 5,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq supporting local forces.
Protesters angry about U.S. air strikes on Iraq hurled stones and torched a security post at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, setting off a confrontation with guards.
The protests, led by Iranian-backed militias, posed a new foreign policy challenge for U.S. President Donald Trump, who faces re-election in 2020. He threatened to retaliate against Iran.
The State Department said diplomatic personnel inside were safe and there were no plans to evacuate them.
Embassy guards used stun grenades and tear gas to repel protesters, who stormed and burned the security post at the entrance but did not breach the main compound