Less than one dayand after President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran's commander of Iran's secretive Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, three U.S. defense officials tells NBC News that roughly 3,000 soldiers will be sent to the Middle East.
The additional troops will be from the Immediate Response Force of the 82nd Airborne Division, which had previously been placed on "prepare-to deploy" orders, CNN reported. The soldiers are bolstering 750 troops who were previously deployed by the administration following an attack on the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad.
U.S. defense officials told the outlet that the deployment of the additional troops were not in response to the strike, but instead in response to an incident in which thousands of people, most of whom affiliated with Iran-backed militias, stormed the compound on Tuesday and attempted to breach the facility. The crowd was seen throwing Molotov cocktails over the walls and tried to burn down the entry gates.
The State Department issued a warning for all American citizens in Iraq to leave "immediately" and to stay away from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The embassy has also suspended all public consular activities "until further notice."
The Iranian government has promised a "harsh revenge" for the killing of Soleimani.
The soldiers are scheduled to remain for some 60 days, officials said. The forces will be spread throughout the region, with some stationed in Iraq and others in Kuwait.
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