The United States is sending around 3,000 to 3,500 more troops to the Middle East amid tensions arising after the death of an Iranian top military leader’s death in Baghdad.
The news came hours after an American airstrike killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s secretive Quds Force and one of the country’s most powerful figures, but U.S. defense officials told NBC the deployments were not in response to the strike.
The deployment of additional soldiers from a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, comes after thousands of people, most of them affiliated with the Iran-backed Shiite militia group Kataeb Hezbollah, descended on the embassy compound Tuesday.
The soldiers will join roughly 650 others already deployed to the region and stay there for some 60 days, the officials said. The immediate response force will be spread throughout the region, with some soldiers in Iraq and others in Kuwait.
Since March of last year, when tensions between Iran and the United States have risen in the region, the United States has on several occasions strengthened its forces in the Middle East.