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In response to pro-Iran riots that threatened the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, a detachment of 100 Marines was deployed and two Apache attack helicopters.

All U.S. personnel are secure and there are no plans to evacuate the embassy, the State Department told Military Times via email on Tuesday. The State Department added that the U.S. ambassador for Iraq, Matt Tueller, is returning to the embassy from previously scheduled personal travel.

The defensive measures were requested by the U.S. State Department and arranged with the approval of the Iraqi security forces. The Marines are part of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces Crisis Response — Central Command and came from Kuwait, and the helicopters were deployed from Taji, Iraq.

“The Department of Defense is working closely with the Department of State to ensure the security of our Embassy and personnel in Baghdad,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a Tuesday press release. “We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats in country, and to ensure our right of self-defense.”

Esper added that the Iraqi security forces were also expected to act to defend the U.S. embassy.

“As in all countries, we rely on host nation forces to assist in the protection of our personnel in country, and we call on the Government of Iraq to fulfill its international responsibilities to do so,” Esper said. The State Department said that the protesters entered the embassy compound but there was no “breach.”

The response to the embassy threat stands in sharp contrast to what took place following a similar incident in Libya in 2012. The Benghazi attack, carried out by Islamic militants on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador  J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA contractors.


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