Nearly 5,000 additional troops are expected to deploy to Iraq after protesters angry over US airstrikes stormed the US embassy in Baghdad this week.
The situation in Iraq devolved amid rising hostilities between the United States and Iran, The New York Times reports. The US blamed an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia for Friday’s rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that killed a US contractor. The US launched airstrikes on five sites controlled by the militia in Iraq and Syria, killing dozens of people and injuring dozens more.
On Tuesday, thousands of Iraqis, many of whom The Times identified as militia fighters, stormed the embassy in Baghdad. Some were able to break through the outer wall, though they were not able to breach the embassy.
Militia leaders are calling for the US to withdraw from Iraq.
Trump feuds with Iranian leader:
“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE!” Trump tweeted on New Year’s Eve. “This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, taunted Trump at a speech in Tehran on Wednesday.
“You can’t do anything,” he said. “If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge and fight, it will do so unequivocally.”
“If you were logical — which you’re not — you would see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan” and elsewhere “have made nations hate you,” he said, addressing Trump.
He claimed that the US was “taking revenge” against militias for defeating ISIS, which Iran claimed “the US had created.”
Up to 5,000 troops to Iraq:
About 750 Army troops have already deployed to Kuwait with another 4,000 troops expected to deploy later this week, The Military Times reports.
“Approximately 750 soldiers will deploy to the region immediately, and additional forces from the [Immediate Response Force] are prepared to deploy over the next several days” in “response to recent events in Iraq,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement.
The Pentagon has already deployed an additional 14,000 troops to the region in the last six months.
“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. The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world,” Esper said Tuesday.