Up to 4,000 US Troops Could Deploy to Mideast amid Protests in Iraq
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Following angry protests by Iraqi people outside the US embassy over Washington’s airstrikes on the Arab country, up to 4,000 American troops will be deployed to Kuwait, according to three US defense officials.
At least 750 paratroopers are set to deploy to the region immediately, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement.
The alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers, known as the DRB -- the Deployment Ready Brigade -- has been told to prepare for a possible deployment in the days ahead after several thousands of angry Iraqi protesters amassed in front the US embassy in Baghdad Tuesday, Fox News reported.
Within that alert brigade, three rifle battalions had a certain alert sequence, 18 hours, 36 hours and 54 hours for the third. The entire brigade had a 96-hour alert window to deploy.
Esper said that at President Donald Trump's direction, "I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division to the US Central Command area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq. Approximately 750 soldiers will deploy to the region immediately, and additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days. 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. The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world."
Some of the paratroopers already have left their base in Fort Bragg, N.C., to fly overseas in Air Force C-17 cargo planes, according to officials.
The US Army has kept an alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne for crisis response like this.
There are roughly 5,000 US troops currently deployed to Iraq now, among the roughly 60,000 US troops currently deployed to the region. According to the Pentagon, 14,000 have been added since May.
The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman has been in the Gulf of Oman, its strike group armed with hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles in addition to the dozens of strike aircraft aboard Truman.
More than 100 US Marines arrived at the US embassy in Baghdad earlier Tuesday to help bolster security after the Tuesday anti-US protests.
Many protesters have set up tents, announcing plans for an indefinite sit-in until the embassy is closed and the ambassador expelled from the country.
On Sunday, US forces conducted drone strikes on a number of Kata'ib Hezbollah bases in Iraq's western Anbar province, killing at least 25 individuals and leaving another 51 injured, according to the PMU (Popular Mobilization Units).
Following the strikes, the Pentagon issued a statement saying that it had targeted three locations of the Iraqi fighters in Iraq and two in Syria in response to alleged attacks targeting American forces.