On Wednesday, the US announced it sent 30 armored vehicles to the Iraqi military to help secure Baghdad.
“The United States is committed to helping the Iraqi military maintain the security of Iraq and Baghdad,” the US embassy in Baghdad said in a Facebook post.
The move comes after a rocket attack on the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone, that the US blamed on Iran, despite Tehran’s clear interest in avoiding provoking the US before President Trump leaves office.
US officials are also warning of potential “Iranian-linked” attacks on US forces in Iraq due to the upcoming anniversary of the US assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani on January 3rd.
The US drone strike that killed Soleimani also killed Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who was the leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a group of mostly Shia Iraqi state-sponsored militias. The PMF was formed in 2014 to fight ISIS.
If an attack does happen around the anniversary, it could be related to al-Mohandes’ slaying. Iran recently warned its allies in Iraq not to attack the US, but some Shia militias rejected the warning since they have their own reasons to fire on US forces.
Also on Wednesday, the US flew two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf, ratcheting up tensions with Iran even more. It marked the third time since November that the US deployed long-range bombers to the region to intimidate Iran.