US sending 3,000 more troops to Mideast as reinforcements

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Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Friday Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed Tehran’s top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States said Friday it is sending nearly 3,000 more Army troops to the Mideast in the volatile aftermath of the killing of an Iranian general in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump.

Defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet announced by the Pentagon, said the troops are from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

They are in addition to about 700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne who deployed to Kuwait earlier this week after the storming of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters.

The reinforcements took shape as Trump gave his first comments on the strike, declaring that he ordered the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani because he was “plotting to kill” many Americans. “He should have been taken out many years ago,” he added.

The strike marked a major escalation in the conflict between Washington and Iran, as Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” for the killing of the senior military leader. The two nations have faced repeated crises since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.

 

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