Conflict & Justice

Panetta: Embassy protests expected to continue, violence leveling off

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Protesters stand on a US flag during a protest against a US produced film mocking Islam that they said that was insulting to the Prophet Mohammad in front of the US Embassy in Ankara September 16, 2012.

Credit:

Adem Altan

Though the protests in response to an anti-Islam video are likely to continue in the upcoming days, the violence expected by the US is leveling off, said US Defense Secrerary Leon Panetta, while aboard a military aircraft en route to Asia.  

According to the Associated Press, though Panetta didn't give many details of the movement of further military forces, he confirmed that the Pentagon had deployed forces in the region in preparation of requests from US personnel currently in the region. 

"I think our approach right now is to not do anything until we've been requested to do it by the State Department," said Panetta. "I think that we have to continue to be very vigilant because I suspect that ... these demonstrations are likely to continue over the next few days, if not longer."

Protests across the Muslim world were sparked over an anti-Muslim film called The Innocence of Muslims, which denigrates the Prophet Muhammad, depicting him as a fraud, womanizer and pedophile. An excerpt of the film, both in English and Arabic, has been circulated widely on YouTube, though some countries have now cut access to it.  

In Libya, Sudan and Tunisia, US embassies were stormed by protesters after news of the film spread. In Lebanon, an American fast food restaurant was burned down by protesters.  However, it is unclear how much of the violence was in retaliation of the film, and how much was used as a tool by anti-American militants.  

Read GlobalPost's complete coverage of the protests here.