The Pentagon announced the deployment of additional troops to the Middle East in response to unrest in Iraq, with more expected to head out later this week.
“At the direction of the Commander in Chief President Donald J. Trump, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division to the U.S. Central Command area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday.
According to the current information, approximately 750 U.S. Soldiers will deploy to the region immediately and additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days.
“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 said in a statement. “The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world.”
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.
According to CNBC, more than 5,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq supporting local forces.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday blamed Iran for planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and promised to hold Tehran “fully responsible.”
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”
“In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” he added.