WASHINGTON — The United States 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 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. He said he ordered the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani because he was “plotting to kill” many Americans.
Global powers are warning that the U.S. killing of Iran’s top general has made the world a more dangerous place. But some also are suggesting that Iran shared some blame by provoking the strike.
Oil prices surged, reflecting investors' jitters about Mideast stability. Iran vowed revenge against Americans. Twitter users turned “WWIII” into a top trending term. But there was praise from Israel and a right-wing opposition leader in Italy.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo worked the phones, calling world capitals to defend the killing. Saudi Arabia appealed for international efforts to stabilize the vital region.
It was an airstrike that killed Soleimani, who was the architect of Iran's regional security apparatus. The strike happened at Baghdad's international airport Friday, Iranian state television and three Iraqi officials said. "General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region," the Department of Defense said in a statement.
The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Iraqi officials said.
The Department of Defense said, "at the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization."
Their deaths are a potential turning point in the Middle East and are expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and the forces it backs in the Middle East against Israel and American interests.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran will "take revenge for this heinous crime."