In the wake of an intensifying situation at and around the United States embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced on Tuesday that a special U.S. military contingent was tasked with immediate deployment to the area to bolster security.
According to The Hill, Esper said that the troops will consist of 750 soldiers from a special task force from within the U.S. Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division, with additional deployments to follow in the coming days after the first wave of reinforcements land.
“At the direction of the Commander in Chief @POTUS, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the @82ndABNDiv to the @CENTCOM area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq,” Esper said Tuesday night.
Esper added that the deployment was part of a precautionary maneuver due to the growing unrest in the area of the U.S. embassy, which was sparked after the United States launched a retaliatory strike against an Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia group that was allegedly responsible for the recent death of a U.S. military contractor.
“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,” Esper wrote.
The contingent of 750 U.S. Army troops followed the deployment of another special task force of 100 U.S. Marines and two Apache attack helicopters dispatched to the location earlier in the day to provide immediate defensive assistance in and around the embassy area, according to Marine Corps Times.
Iraqi Security Forces approved the Marine backup force, which was requested by the U.S. State Department. The Apache helicopters were sent to provide over-watch of the U.S. embassy area.
BREAKING: US Marines arriving to Baghdad embassy pic.twitter.com/nRGUKF7MJc
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) December 31, 2019
President Donald Trump sent a warning to Iran amid the developing situation, blaming the country several times for escalation of violence around the embassy in a Tuesday tweet.
“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.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, angry protesters in the vicinity of the embassy managed to bust through a gate at the main reception area while setting fires in the process. At the time, Iraqi security forces seemingly let the protesters attack the embassy, though it’s unclear why.
Trump later called on Iraqi security forces to assist in protecting the American embassy, claiming it was their duty to help defend it.