After protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, Dec. 31, President Trump immediately responded by sending 750 troops to the region, with additional forces being prepared to go to the area over the following days.
The president spoke with reporters on Tuesday night ahead of New Year’s celebration at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. He vowed Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad would not become “a Benghazi,” referring to the 2012 deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya after staff there had asked the Obama administration for weeks to strengthen security there.
“It’s been handled very well,” Trump said.” The Marines came in. We had some great warriors come in; they did a fantastic job. They were there instantaneously, as soon as we heard. They came immediately. It’s in great shape. This will not be a Benghazi. Benghazi never should have happened. This will never, ever be a Benghazi. … As soon as we saw there was a potential for a problem, they got in.”
Trump added, “Things are in great shape. … I want to thank the Iraqi government. They really stepped up,” reported Fox News.
U.S. Embassy diplomats went into lockdown and hid as thousands of demonstrators, some shouting “Death to America,” stormed the embassy in Baghdad, led by armed Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militiamen. Their actions were in response to the U.S. airstrikes Sunday in Iraq and Syria—retribution for an American defense contractor killed in Iraq Friday, according to U.S. defense officials.
The president spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on Tuesday, emphasizing the need for Iraq to protect U.S. facilities in Iraq.
The president tweeted, “[W]e expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper took to Twitter on Tuesday, “At the direction of the Commander in Chief @POTUS, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the @82ndABNDiv to the @CENTCOM area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq.”
“Approximately 750 #Soldiers will deploy to the region immediately & additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days,” he added. “This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. 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.”
VIDEO: AH-64 Apaches protect @USEmbBaghdad. 🚁“We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens…and to ensure our right of self-defense. We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy.”~@EsperDoD 🇺🇸🇮🇶 pic.twitter.com/amABHBAOcL
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) December 31, 2019