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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Iraqis rallied in central Baghdad on Friday calling for the expulsion of U.S. troops, but the protest mostly dissipated after a few hours despite fears of violence following a cleric's call for a "million strong" turnout.
Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr convened the march after the U.S. killing of an Iranian general and an Iraqi paramilitary chief in Baghdad this month. His eventual decision to hold it away from a separate anti-government protest camp, and away from the U.S. embassy, looked pivotal in keeping the march peaceful.
Paratroopers from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division will be protecting the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, officials said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to kill Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, and said "it doesn't really matter" whether Soleimani posed an imminent threat to the United States.
"The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was 'imminent' or not, & was my team in agreement," Trump wrote on Twitter.
"The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn't really matter because of his horrible past!"
Clausewitz wrote that "war is the realm of uncertainty," and the past 24 hours have proven him right: numerous officials within the Trump administration have put out somewhat conflicting statements about whether the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the deployment of 3,500 additional paratroopers to the Middle East, and the overall rising tension between Washington and Tehran will result in the U.S. hurtling toward World War III.
The following official statements, laid out in chronological order, show that the fog of maybe-war is as thick as ever:
Thousands of additional paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division will soon deploy to U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, a Defense Department spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.
The deployment comes in response to threats of retaliation from Iran for the killing of top military commander Qassim Suleimani in an American air strike on Thursday night.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Supporters of Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups who stormed the U.S. Embassy's perimeter and hurled rocks in two days of protests withdrew on Wednesday after Washington dispatched extra troops and threatened reprisals against Tehran.
The demonstrators, angry at U.S. air strikes against the Tehran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group in which at least 25 people were killed, threw stones at the building while U.S. forces stationed on the rooftops fired tear gas to disperse them.