Update: Jan. 3: NBC News has confirmed the U.S. military will send 3,500 troops to the Middle East following the attack of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
Three U.S. defense officials told NBC that the troops would be dispersed across several military bases in Iraq and Kuwait.
The deployment of one brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, approximately 700 troops, has already arrived in the Middle East.
The U.S. State Department urged all Americans citizens to leave Iraq on Friday.
Tehran on Friday deployed Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jets to its borders hours after Soleimani was killed by a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad international airport.
Al-Mayadeen news tweeted: "Iran: Revolutionary Guard Agency of Iran: Armed forces in the army and Revolutionary Guard are awaiting orders from the highest command."
It was also reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) "has put all of its ballistic missile bases on high-alert. #IRGC affiliated news media of #Iran's Islamic Regime claim that they are ready to launch missiles at several airbases which host #USAF airplanes in #UAE, #Qatar, #SaudiArabia & #Jordan!"
#BREAKING: #IRGC Aerospace Force has put all of its ballistic missile bases on high-alert. #IRGC affiliated news media of #Iran's Islamic Regime claim that they are ready to launch missiles at several air bases which host #USAF airplanes in #UAE, #Qatar, #SaudiArabia & #Jordan! pic.twitter.com/u7YqFtJ3wc— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) January 3, 2020
Both the U.S. and Iran are beefing up forces as the world awaits a retaliation move by Tehran. That move could be seen as early as this weekend.
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As we detailed earlier in the week, three U.S. defense officials told Fox News on Tuesday that the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division's alert brigade has been given orders to deploy to Kuwait amid the social unrest in Baghdad.
Even though all supporters of Iran-backed militias have withdrawn from the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, the reinforcement of U.S. troops could be imminent.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement on Tuesday that 750 troops are immediately deploying to the Middle East because of the attack on the U.S. embassy.
Esper said he had authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division.
"This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today," Esper said in a statement.
Apart from the rapid deployment, the three sources told Fox that approximately 4,000 paratroopers could be deployed to the region in the coming days.
There are 5,000 US troops currently stationed in Iraq supporting local forces, among the more than 60,000 troops positioned in military bases across the Middle East.
President Trump blamed Iran for the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in a tweetstorm on Tuesday.
"Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will," tweeted Trump. "Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible."
"In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!" he added.
Trump said, "....Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!"
It appears that Trump isn't pulling out of the Middle East after all, but rather a massive surge in troops into the region could be seen in the coming days. Is conflict with Iran nearing?