US to deploy thousands of additional troops to Middle East following Soleimani killing

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(CNN) — 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 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.

The deployment comes amid threats from the Iranian government of a “harsh revenge” for the killing of Soleimani.

On Friday, Congressman Tom Cole released the following statement:

“General Qasem Soleimani was more than a bad actor. For decades, he was a dangerous terrorist actively seeking to do us harm by targeting our diplomats, service members and partners well beyond the Middle East. At General Soleimani’s direction, the Quds Force have wreaked havoc and extreme terror in the region, causing the loss of hundreds of American lives. Most recently, he was the mastermind behind this week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. To protect our personnel and partners against mounting threats and aggression, President Trump was right to act with precision when he did. However, the decision to take out General Soleimani is both serious and consequential. Indeed, it will pose risks to American personnel and interests everywhere.

“The president and our military deserve the full support of Congress and the American people as they undertake this effort to curb the ever more aggressive actions of the Iranian regime. I look forward to a full briefing by the Trump Administration to Congress and the American people about how it intends to deter and respond to future Iranian aggression in the months ahead.

“No one should be under the illusion that deterring Iranian aggression will be either easy or painless. It will require sustained and continued commitment, real sacrifice and the full support of the American people and their representatives in Congress. One thing is certain though: As the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, the Iranian regime must bear the consequences of its actions. And President Trump has made it clear that the regime will not be permitted to plan or commit acts of terror against American forces, facilities or partners with impunity.”

Rep. Kendra Horn released the following statement:

“Soleimani was a terrorist and enemy of the United States who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. Though we do not mourn his loss, we must ensure that the United States does not recklessly engage with Iran. As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am committed to protecting the safety and security of all Americans, including our men and women in uniform and those living abroad. Both Congress and the American people deserve to see that this Administration has a plan to ensure that we are safer now than before Soleimani’s death.”

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