The US Department of Defense stated on Friday, January 3, that it was deploying 3000 additional troops to Kuwait amid heightened tensions with Iran. The announcement comes one day after a targeted airstrike killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, in Baghdad. According to US defense officials, additional deployments are also being weighed; an Army brigade has reportedly been placed on alert to fly into Lebanon to safeguard the US Embassy in Beirut. US Embassies also issued Security Alerts for Americans across the region, including in Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
A funeral will reportedly be held for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad on Saturday, January 4. Al-Muhandis, who was the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals. Mourners are expected to gather at Entry Control Point (ECP) 5 of the International Zone at 10:00 (local time) before marching toward the Jadriyah neighborhood of Karada district.
Tensions will likely escalate in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, in the near term. Heightened security measures are anticipated throughout the capital, including at Baghdad International Airport (BGW), over the coming hours. Retaliatory attacks targeting US personnel and assets are also possible.
The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3, claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) during the early morning hours of Friday. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals. The situation remains fluid and details are still emerging.
Individuals in Baghdad, and Iraq more generally, are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.