US President Donald Trump (File pic)
US President Donald Trump (File pic)

Iraq embassy attack: US deploys 750 troops to Middle-East, Trump warns Iran to 'pay big price'

ANI | Updated: Jan 01, 2020 17:19 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Jan 1 (ANI): The United States has said that it was sending additional troops to the Middle East, after hundreds of protesters stormed its embassy compound in Iraq, setting fires and chanting -- 'Death to America!'
Raged by the US airstrikes that killed nearly two dozen fighters of an Iran-backed militia on Sunday, supporters of the powerful Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary group spilled through checkpoints in the high-security Green Zone on Tuesday, demanding the removal of American troops from Iraq, Al Jazeera reported.
Reacting to the attack, US President Donald Trump said he held Iran "fully responsible" for the incident and added that the protesters "will be held fully responsible," he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
"In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!" the President stated.
Trump later warned in a separate statement that Tehran would "pay a very big price" after the attack, but when asked later in the day about the possibility of tensions spiralling into a war with Iran, Trump told reporters: "Do I want to? No. I want to have peace. I like peace. And Iran should want to have peace more than anybody. So I don't see that happening."
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the attack was "orchestrated by terrorists," one of whom he named as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Al-Muhandis has been identified as the second-in-command of the Tehran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi group, which includes Kataib Hezbollah, the group that was hit in the US air raids.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement that about 750 troops from a rapid response unit of the 82nd Airborne Division are prepared to deploy over the next several days to the region.
"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," he said.
A social media post from the US Marines said the troops from its crisis response command in Kuwait were deployed to Iraq.
It is worth noting that the deployment of 750 soldiers will be done in addition to 14,000 US troops who are been deployed to the Gulf region since May in response to concerns about Iran, and the reported attacks on commercial shipping in the Gulf.
At the time of the attack, the US had about 5,200 troops in Iraq, mainly to train Iraqi forces and help them combat the ISIL (ISIS) group. (ANI)

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