By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. has sent a platoon of 25 Marines to bolster security at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad following recent protests led by firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The embassy “continues to operate normally,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby said.
Protestors loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the Green Zone last weekend, breaching the fortified area that includes Iraqi government building and the U.S. Embassy. It was the first such breach of the zone since it was established shortly after U.S. forces took control of Baghdad in 2003.
The 25 Marines belong to a forward-deployed Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force designed to respond quickly to reinforce embassies worldwide should more protection be needed.
A U.S. Marine rifle company of more than 150 Marines, in addition to private security contractors, has been protecting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and will continue to do so.
Supporters of al-Sadr, whose forces fought American troops in Iraq, have been protesting the Iraqi government for several months. Davis said the United States remains committed to supporting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who America has worked closely with in its ongoing fight against Islamic State group militants.