Embassy attack: US moves more troops to the region

AP, Reuters/Washington
Filed on January 1, 2020 | Last updated on January 1, 2020 at 10.33 pm
Embassy attack, US, moves, troops, Iran, US Marines, US Embassy in Iraq,
ACT OF VANDALISM: Pro-Iran militia members smash the bullet-proof glass of the US embassy's windows in Baghdad to vent their anger against air strikes that killed pro-Iran fighters in Iraq. - AFP

No US casualties or evacuations were reported after the attack on Tuesday by dozens of Iran-supported militiamen.

Charging that Iran was "fully responsible" for an attack on the US Embassy in Iraq, President Donald Trump ordered about 750 US soldiers deployed to the Middle East as about 3,000 more prepared for possible deployment in the next several days.

No US casualties or evacuations were reported after the attack on Tuesday by dozens of Iran-supported militiamen. US Marines were sent from Kuwait to reinforce the compound.

The US Embassy in Baghdad said on Wednesday that all public consular operations were suspended. "Due to militia attacks at the US Embassy compound, all public consular operations are suspended until further notice. All future appointments are cancelled. US citizens are advised to not approach the embassy," it said in a statement.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday night that "in response to recent events" in Iraq, and at Trump's direction, he authorised the immediate deployment of the infantry battalion from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He did not specify the soldiers' destination, but a US official familiar with the decision said they will go to Kuwait.

"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 said in a written statement.

Additional soldiers from the 82nd Airborne's quick-deployment brigade, known officially as its Immediate Response Force, were prepared to deploy, Esper said. The US official, who provided unreleased details on condition of anonymity, said the full brigade of about 4,000 soldiers may deploy.

"They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!" Trump tweeted on Tuesday afternoon, though it was unclear whether his "threat" meant military retaliation. He thanked top Iraqi government leaders for their "rapid response upon request".

American air strikes on Sunday killed 25 fighters of an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah.

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