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US sending in Marines after violent protests at embassy in Baghdad

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  • The US is “sending additional forces to support our personnel” at the US embassy in Baghdad after violent protesters stormed the gate, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Tuesday.
  • US Central Command told Insider that “around 100” additional Marines would be sent to provide security for the diplomatic outpost.
  • The protests Tuesday follow a US airstrikes on Iran-backed militia sites, a response to a rocket attack last Friday that killed a US civilian contractor and injured several American service members.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that the US is sending in additional forces to defend the US embassy in Baghdad after violent protesters stormed the gates earlier in the day following US airstrikes on Iran-backed Iraqi militias, strikes carried out in retaliation for a rocket attack on a local base that killed a US civilian contractor and wounded several others.

“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,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced in a statement Tuesday. “We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy.”

Esper added that the US continues to “rely on the host nation forces to assist in the protection of our personnel.”

His statement follows an earlier tweet from President Donald Trump that blamed Iran for the attack on the embassy and urged Iraq to defend US personnel in country.

Esper did not state how many additional troops would be sent to protect the embassy. US Central Command officials, however, told Insider that “around 100” more Marines would be sent to provide additional security for the diplomatic outpost.

In addition to the decision to send in more troops for added security, the US also flew Apache helicopters over the embassy as a show of force.

The current situation at the embassy follows a series of earlier clashes between US personnel and local militias.

Last Friday, a US civilian contractor was killed and several American service members were wounded in a rocket attack on an Iraqi base in Kirkuk that the US believes was carried out by an Iraqi Shiite militia. On Sunday, the US conducted five airstrikes on Iran-backed militia Kataeb Hezbollah positions, eliminating more than two dozen fighters.

The retaliatory strikes sparked violent protests Tuesday, when demonstrators stormed the main gate of the US embassy in Baghdad.

State Department officials said Tuesday there has been no breach of the embassy compound and all personnel are “secure.” They advised Americans to stay away from the embassy.

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