UNITED STATES—One hundred troops from the Special Marine Corp Response Team were deployed on Tuesday, December 31, to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after angry Iraqi Shiite militiamen along with their supporters broke into the compound, smashed windows, vandalized and set fire to the roof of the reception area.
U.S. military fired out warning shots and tear gas on Wednesday, January 1 in response to the New Year’s Eve attack. The 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command deployed from Kuwait to Baghdad following an announcement by U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
On December 31, Esper made the following statement on his web page.
“At the direction of the Commander in Chief Donald J. Trump, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division to the U.S. Central Command area of operation 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. The deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response of increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Bagdad today. The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world,” said Esper in a statement on December 31.
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified,” said President Donald Trump.
YouTube footage notes popular mobilization forces, an umbrella group of state allied militia issued a statement by a spokesperson calling on its supporters to withdraw from the compound in response to a message from the Iraqi government saying, “Your message has been received.” Some Iraqi protestors could be seen taking down their tents, and others stayed. The spokesperson indicated an Iraqi presence would remain until the U.S. Ambassador was evicted, the embassy is closed and all Americans leave Iraq.
According to U.S. defense officials, the attack followed the funerals of 25 Iranian backed fighters who were killed during U.S. airstrikes Sunday in Iraq by Syria in retribution for the death of an American defense contractor on Friday, December 27.