The US will deploy thousands of additional troops to the Middle East as tensions with Iran mount following the airstrike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, a US defense official tells CNN. The Associated Press reports the 3,000 troops are from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The additional troops will come from the Immediate Response Force of the 82nd Airborne Division. CNN has previously reported that these forces had been placed on prepare-to deploy orders and would be sent to the region if the situation merited it.
Following the disturbance at the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week, the US deployed 750 troops from the same unit and said that additional deployments were possible.
The new deployment will encompass the rest of the brigade, typically about 3,000 soldiers.
In a dramatic escalation amid tensions between the two countries, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday that the US killed Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, in a drone strike on Baghdad International airport ordered by President Donald Trump.
Intelligence showed Soleimani was in Baghdad following Tuesday's embassy attack to plan future hits on US targets with Iranian proxy forces, a senior administration official told CNN. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN Friday that the strike was carried out to disrupt an "imminent" attack in the region.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) issued the following statement after the death of Soleimani.
“Qassem Soleimani was the personification of a state sponsor of terrorism. At his direction, hundreds of American servicemen were killed and thousands more injured. At his urging, U.S. allies were attacked repeatedly and undermined by Iran’s Quds Force and their proxies.
“Under Soleimani, Iran has become the single most destabilizing force in the Middle East and an exporter of tyranny throughout the region. The blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians, Israelis, and countless others is on his hands.
“Soleimani is also responsible in part for Iran’s current economic strife, as he put his violent campaigns and the enrichment of the corrupt Quds Force ahead of the interests of the Iranian people.
“Iran and the Iranian people can now turn away from Soleimani’s murderous adventurism, redirect the Quds Force’s money into Iran’s economy, bring home the troops Soleimani sent abroad, and move forward toward building a more peaceful region.”
The deployment comes amid threats from the Iranian government of a "harsh revenge" for the killing of Soleimani.