Secretary of Defense Mark Esper released a statement Tuesday morning revealing more U.S. troops are being sent to Iraq to bolster units around the American Embassy after Iranian-backed militias breached the International Zone of Baghdad, known as the Green Zone.
"The Department of Defense is working closely with the Department of State to ensure the security of our Embassy and personnel in Baghdad," Esper's statement said. "We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats in country, and to ensure our right of self-defense. We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy."
Esper further called on Iraqi authorities to "assist in the protection of our personnel in country" to "fulfill its international responsibilities."
Around 100 U.S. Marines are being sent to reinforce the embassy. The Marines are based out of Kuwait and are assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command. Marines are tasked with protecting American embassies around the world.
~100 U.S. Marines being sent to U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to bolster security: U.S. defense official. No plans to evacuate embassy personnel.— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) December 31, 2019
The militias are targeting the American Embassy after the U.S. conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Kataeb Hezbollah in retaliation for the killing of a U.S. contractor on Friday.
It would appear some of the Iraqi security guards not only have not attempted to resist the militias, but have participated in the destruction of the buildings.
The Iraqi government and it’s institutions have clearly failed to protect their Iraqi citizens(500+ protesters were killed &20,000 wounded) in addition to their failure of honoring their global commitments in protecting diplomatic missions. It is time the world sees their reality pic.twitter.com/Qh5m3nSUVI— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) December 31, 2019
AH-64 Apache attack helicopters are providing air cover to the embassy and have deployed flares in an attempt to ward off the militias.
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