The video released by the US Department of Defense on Wednesday showed the troops deplaning onto the diplomatic premises from Marine Corps’ Ospreys. The contingents belong to the US Central Command’s Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces Crisis Response, and had been taken on board from neighboring Kuwait.
US Army Apache helicopters were, meanwhile, seen releasing flares overhead.
The reinforcements are part of 750 additional forces, who were assigned for swift deployment to the Middle East after thousands of angry protesters forced their way into the Iraqi capital’s heavy-fortified Green Zone, where the Embassy is located, on Tuesday.
Chanting “Death to America” and burning US flags, the demonstrators strongly condemned a set of US airstrikes against Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) counter-terrorism forces in the western Iraqi Anbar Province, which killed over 30 of them and injured over 50 others.
The protesters held up signs calling for the US diplomatic mission to be shut down and for the parliament to order US forces out of Iraq.
Reuters cited two Iraqi Foreign Ministry sources as saying that the US ambassador and other staff were evacuated amid the protests.
Also on Tuesday, three US defense officials told Fox News that — in the wake of the mass protests — the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers, known as the Deployment Ready Brigade (DRB), was issued orders to prepare for possible deployment in the days ahead in Kuwait.
Iraq already housed around 5,000 American forces before the new deployment.
The US invaded the Arab country in 2003 under the pretext of “war on terror,” plunging it into a cycle of violence, which continues to this day.
In 2014, Iraq was attacked by the Takfiri terror group of Daesh, which had risen amid the chaos. The US and scores of its allies launched fresh wholesale operations against the country soon afterwards under the pretext of dislodging the group.
The US military’s bloodshed of forces belonging to the PMU, which has played a significant role in battling the Takfiris, has now rekindled both the anti-American sentiment in the country and far-and-wide criticism from across the Iraqi political spectrum.
No let-up in protests
Another footage, which was released later on Wednesday, showed protesters standing their ground in front of the Embassy, pelting it with rocks and waving the flags of Kata’ib Hezbollah, a PMU subdivision, which was targeted in the US attacks.
“So many of us were killed. This is not the first one that the US has hit us with. We were bombed before twice and thrice,” said one protester, apparently referring to previous US strikes targeting the paramilitaries. “We will never move from here…until they leave,” he added.
“We are here holding a sit-in for the souls of our martyrs and until the departure of the American occupiers,” another said.