The Pentagon will deploy 3,000 troops to the Middle East in response to escalating tensions, which culminated in a U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq on Thursday, according to news reports.
Three Pentagon officials told NBC News the soldiers will deploy to Iraq, Kuwait and other areas of the Middle East.
The soldiers, from the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will deploy for 60 days, and will join approximately 650 who were deployed to the region earlier this week, according to NBC.
Pentagon officials told NBC the troop deployment is not a direct response to the strike on Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds Force, a covert Iranian military group that operates outside of Iran.
President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the strike on Soleimani. He was killed near the airport in Baghdad along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iraq-based terror group supported by Iran.
Pentagon officials who confirmed the strike said that Soleimani was planning other attacks on Americans in the Middle East, and that he had approved attacks Dec. 29, 2019, against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. The attacks were a response to a U.S. airstrike on Kata’ib strongholds in Iraq and Syria that killed more than two dozen militants.