US deploys additional forces to protect US embassy in Iraq
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Tuesday that the United States would send additional forces to Baghdad to protect the American embassy from attacks by Iraqi Shiite militia supporters. On a Tuesday night Tweeter, he wrote that 750 troops would be “immediately deployed to the area” and that more Immediate Reaction Force forces would be ready to deploy in the coming days. “This deployment is an appropriate and preemptive action taken in response to the increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and installations, as we witnessed in Baghdad today,” he wrote.
Protesters reportedly breached the embassy’s main gate, set fires, threw bricks, broke into several reception halls and chanted “death to America”. The protests were sparked by airstrikes in Iraq and Syria by US forces against five facilities, which the Pentagon says have links to an Iran-backed militia dubbed Kataib Hezbollah. The group is accused of attacks on Iraqi military installations, including one on Friday that killed an American contractor. Esper, in an announcement earlier Tuesday, said the United States had “taken appropriate force protection measures to ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats” in Iraq.