WASHINGTON (Xinhua) – US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Tuesday that the United States will deploy about 750 troops immediately to the Middle East, a move taken hours after demonstrators stormed the US Embassy in Iraq.
“Approximately 750 #Soldiers will deploy to the region immediately & additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days,” said the Pentagon chief in a series of tweets on Tuesday evening.
The IRF refers to the Immediate Response Force of the 82nd Airborne Division.
“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,” Esper added.
The Pentagon’s decision came hours after hundreds of demonstrators, mourning for the Hashd Shaabi members killed by a US attack in Iraq on Sunday, stormed the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
US President Donald Trump blamed Iran for “orchestrating an attack” on the embassy in a Tuesday morning tweet.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday spoke over phone with Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi after demonstrators stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad, said the White House.
The two leaders discussed “regional security issues and President Trump emphasised the need to protect United States personnel and facilities in Iraq,” said a statement released by the White House.
The phone call came hours after hundreds of demonstrators, participating in mourning for the Hashd Shaabi members killed by a US attack in Iraq on Sunday, stormed the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Trump blamed Iran for “orchestrating an attack” on the embassy in a Tuesday morning tweet.
Following the incident, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the United States is sending extra forces to beef up the embassy.
US forces on Sunday attacked five locations in Iraq and Syria controlled by Iraq’s paramilitary Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), or Hezbollah Brigades, in response to recent attacks on US forces in Iraq, triggering strong responses from Iraq and Syria, with Iran denying any role in the recent attacks on US forces in Iraq.
Iran denied it was behind violent protests at the US embassy in Iraq on Tuesday and warned against any retaliation, after President Donald Trump blamed Tehran for an attack on the mission and said it would be held responsible.
“American officials have the astounding audacity of attributing to Iran the protests of the Iraqi people against (Washington’s) savage killing of at least 25 Iraqis …,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement carried on a ministry website.