In a series of tweets, Esper said that more U.S. forces stand ready to deploy to the region.
"At the direction of the Commander in Chief @POTUS, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the @82ndABNDiv to the @CENTCOM area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq," Esper said.
"Approximately 750 #Soldiers will deploy to the region immediately & additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days," he added. "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."
The deployment follows the arrival of 100 U.S. Marines at the embassy in Baghdad earlier Tuesday in response to the protests, which reportedly came in response to the U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that targeted Iranian-backed militants.
The retaliatory strikes came after a U.S. contractor was killed and American troops were wounded in an attack on Friday, which the U.S. blamed on the Iranian-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah militia.