The U.S. is preparing to deploy some 3,000 troops to the Middle East in preparation for Iran’s response to the Thursday airstrike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, according to multiple reports.
The remainder of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force, a brigade that remains on standby for quick deployment, will join 500 fellow brigade troops who were sent to Kuwait over the weekend following an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad by Iranian-backed militias.
President Trump said after the attack that he was satisfied with how the situation was resolved, and promised the incident “will not be a Benghazi,” referring to the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
“I think it’s been handled very well,” Trump told reporters. “We have some of our greatest warriors there. They got in there very quickly.”
After Secretary of Defense Mark Esper released a statement warning Iran that “attacks against us will be met with responses in the time, manner, and place of our choosing,” the U.S. then retaliated Thursday by killing Soleimani in an airstrike at the Baghdad airport.
In a statement, the Pentagon explained that Soleimani was heavily involved in the attacks on the U.S. embassy, and was currently “developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Expressing outrage at Soleimani’s death, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei took to Twitter to call for revenge against “the criminals who have stained their hands with his & the other martyrs’ blood last night.”
“The loss of our dear General is bitter. The continuing fight & ultimate victory will be more bitter for the murderers & criminals,” Khamenei wrote.