Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr carry placards depicting U.S. President Donald Trump at a protest against what they say is U.S. presence and violations in Iraq, duri in Baghdad, Iraq January 24, 2020. (REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani)

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.

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U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, board an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during a deployment readiness exercise at Green Ramp on Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, April 27, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Chantel Green)

Paratroopers from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division will be protecting the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, officials said.

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U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, U.S., January 9, 2020. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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!"

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Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran September 22, 2011. (Reuters photo)

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:

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U.S. Army Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division arrive at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Jan. 2, 2020.(Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Daniel Martinez)

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.

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A U.S. service member is seen at a watchtower of the U.S. Embassy during a protest to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), in Baghdad, Iraq January 1, 2020. (REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily)

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.

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