Around 750 soldiers will be deployed in response to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq Tuesday, according to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Hundreds of people protested against the American airstrikes from Sunday, and some tried to break into the embassy located in Baghdad. Security personnel used tear gas to prevent anyone from entering, but the protesters caused damage to the building.
Over 100 U.S. Marines were sent to the area to help with security, and Esper announced Tuesday evening that an additional set troop of soldiers would be heading to the region.
“This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel,” Esper said according to a statement.
Approximately 750 #Soldiers will deploy to the region immediately & 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…
— Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) January 1, 2020
“The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world,” Esper’s statement continued.
Protesters were able to get within 200 meters of the main building and lit fires, broke windows and defaced property at the embassy. They did not breach the inside of the building, according to reports.
The protests came following five American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on places controlled by Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi Shia paramilitary group. At least 25 people died and 51 were wounded because of the American airstrikes, which were a response to Kataeb Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on US-Iraqi targets.
Many of the protesters were members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which is largely made up of Shiite militias. (Trump Denies He Gave Final Approval For Military Strikes Against Iran, Says No Planes Were In The Air)
“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!” Trump tweeted.