Approximately 3,500 additional American troops will be sent to the Middle East in the wake of the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran, according to NBC News.
U.S. defense and military officials told the news outlet that the deployment was in motion prior to Soleimani’s death and includes additional forces in Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the region.
Tensions spiked on Thursday when the U.S. conducted a surprise airstrike in Iraq that killed Soleimani and members of his entourage, enraging Tehran and drawing promises from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of “forceful revenge.”
In a statement, the State Department said that "decisive defensive action" was taken "to protect U.S. personnel abroad," claiming that Soleimani "was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region."
The Pentagon said that Soleimani was responsible for greenlighting the recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad by pro-Iranian militia supporters.
Prior to that attack, during which none of the attackers breached the embassy, “ the U.S. carried out military strikes in Iraq and Syria against an Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militia group,” CNBC noted.
President Donald Trump defended the decision to take out Soleimani in a pair of Friday morning tweets, writing: "General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more...but got caught! He should have been taken out many years ago!"