WASHINGTON: United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Tuesday that the United States will deploy about 750 troops immediately to the Middle East, a move taken hours after demonstrators stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad.
“Approximately 750 soldiers will deploy to the region immediately and additional forces from the IRF (the Immediate Response Force) are prepared to deploy over the next several days,” said the Pentagon chief in a series of tweets on Tuesday evening.
“This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against US personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today,” Esper added.
Pentagon’s decision came hours after hundreds of demonstrators in mourning for the Hashd Shaabi members killed by a US attack in Iraq on Sunday, stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Trump blamed Iran for “orchestrating an attack” on the embassy in a Tuesday morning tweet. He later threatened in another tweet that 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,” the White House host added.
US forces on Sunday attacked five locations in Iraq and Syria controlled by Iraq’s paramilitary Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), or Hezbollah Brigades, in response to recent attacks on US forces in Iraq, triggering strong responses from Iraq and Syria.
Iran has denied any role in the recent attacks on US forces in Iraq.
Hashd Shaabi, an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization, was formed by the KH and other Shia Iraqi paramilitary groups in 2014. It currently consists of more than 40 militant groups.