Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said today that 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 unrest in Iraq.
Dozens of Iran-backed protesters demonstrating against Sunday airstrikes targeting Kataib Hezbollah weapons depots stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, not breaching the interior but prompting the evacuation of staff, according to Iraqi officials.
Iraqi officials said guards used tear gas and stun grenades to try to keep the mob from breaching the compound, wounding several of the militia members. Protesters chanting “Death to America” set a security post on fire and threw rocks at the embassy.
“Approximately 750 soldiers will deploy to the region immediately, and additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days,” Esper said in a statement today.
“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,” he added. “The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world.”