The United States is sending around 750 more troops to the Middle East immediately, following an attack by pro-Iranian demonstrators on the US embassy in Baghdad, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
More troops from a rapid response unit of the 82nd Airborne Division are prepared to deploy over the next several days, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement.
“This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against US personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today,” he said. “The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world.”
The US has deployed hundreds of troops to Kuwait after the attack, an American official had said earlier, telling AFP they would likely be sent to neighboring Iraq.
“At least 500 members of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division have left Fort Bragg in the US, and up to 4,000 may ultimately be deployed,” the official said.
Hundreds of angry supporters of an Iraqi Shia militia broke into the US embassy compound on Tuesday as gunshots and sirens rang out.
Security guards inside the US embassy fired stun grenades at protesters outside the gates of the compound.
The protesters torched the security kiosk at the entrance of the compound, according to Reuters.
Iraqi security forces outside the embassy fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, which had ignored calls over megaphones to back away from the embassy.