Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday, Dec. 31, that 750 U.S. soldiers will be deployed “immediately” to the Middle East following violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

In a series of tweets, Esper said that additional forces stand ready to deploy to the region.

“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,” Esper said.

“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.”

Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump warned Iran that the country “will pay a very BIG PRICE!” after the attack. He has also sent around 100 Marines to Baghdad to strengthen security at the embassy.

“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” he tweeted. “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”

The breach reportedly came in response to the U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that targeted Iranian-backed terrorists in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah. The U.S. military said the strikes were in retaliation after an American contractor was killed and American troops were wounded last week in rocket attacks on an Iraqi military base, which the U.S. blamed on the militia. 

Watch: The U.S. Army’s AH-64 Apache helicopter from 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, conducting overflights of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

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