US soldiers man a defensive position at Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, Iraq, December 31, 2019. — US Army handout via Reuters
“I don’t see that happening,” Trump said at his holiday retreat in Florida when a reporter asked about the possibility of war with the Islamic republic.
“I like peace”” the president said before heading in to New Year’s celebrations.
The presdent spoke after Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that around 750 troops from a rapid response unit of the 82nd Airborne Division are prepared to deploy over the next several days to the Middle East.
The US had already flown a rapid response team of Marines into Baghdad to reinforce its embassy after the attack Tuesday, which left smoke and flames rising from the compound’s entrance and further heightened tension between Tehran and Washington.
US officials said there were no plans to evacuate the mission, and no US personnel were reported injured.
The US reinforcements “got in there very quickly,” Trump said.
“I think it’s been handled very well.”
He added that “this will not be a Benghazi,” a reference to an attack in 2012 by radical Islamists on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed inside the smoke-clogged building including the ambassador, Chris Stevens. — AFP