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, according to AFP.
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 quoted by the news agency.
“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 added.
“The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world,” stated Esper.
Iraqi militants laid siege to the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, setting fires and smashing security cameras before forcing their way into the compound.
US President Donald Trump later said Iran was responsible for the attack.
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” Trump tweeted. “We strongly responded, and always will.”
“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!”
The riots broke out after thousands gathered outside of the US embassy to protest the recent US air strikes in Iraq and Syria against an Iranian-backed militia which the US said was responsible for a rocket attack that killed an American civilian contractor and injured several US military service members.
At least 25 fighters were killed and 55 more injured in the US air strikes over the weekend, which hit five camps of the Shiite group Kata'ib Hezbollah, a close ally of Iran linked to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.