Though the situation in the capital city was relatively calm today, there was unprecedented violence in Skopje against the United States and other NATO members on Tuesday and demonstrations are expected Thursday.
Reflecting security concerns, a team of 46 specially equipped Marines is being sent from Italy, and are expected at the embassy early Thursday morning, officials said.
The United States also has already quietly moved in about a dozen troops from its NATO peacekeeping force in neighboring Kosovo to provide more security for the embassy, officials said. And nonessential personnel have already been removed.
Further Trouble May Be Brewing
On Tuesday, some 3,000 protesters rampaged through the city, attacking the U.S., British and German embassies with rocks, and smashing up a local McDonald's restaurant.
In response, the State Department updated a June warning to Americans visiting Macedonia to urge persons in the country to leave, and to urge U.S. citizens planning to visit to defer their trips.
"The situation in Macedonia is unsettled and potentially dangerous," the statement said, and noted U.S. government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time.
NATO troops are bracing for more trouble Thursday when additional demonstrations are scheduled.
There are 2,800 NATO troops in Skopje providing logistics and support for troops in Kosovo. Of those 2,800, some 600 are Americans, officials have said.
Hoping to Broker Peace
Many Macedonians are increasingly anti-Western, believing that NATO is siding with anti-government, ethnic Albanian rebels. Rioting broke out in late June, after U.S. troops unexpectedly evacuated several hundred ethnic Albanians, including some 100 armed rebels, from a village besieged by Macedanian government forces.
The U.S. government, which along with other NATO governments has been trying to broker a cease-fire settlement between the government and the rebels, has been trying to dispel the idea it favors the rebels.
"The allegations that have been made in some quarters about our supporting ethnic Albanian extremists are unfair. They're inaccurate and they are wrong," said State Department spokesman Phil Reeker.
U.S. troops increasingly are trying to stem the flow of arms from Kosovo into Macedonia by ethnic Albanians, according to the government figures.
Since June 1, officials say, U.S. troops have seized and destroyed 13 handguns, 55 assault rifles, four long rifles, one shotgun, 45 machine guns, 14,728 small arms rounds, 47 anti-tank rounds, 540 mortar rounds, 128 grenades, 131 explosive devices, 41 mines, and 81 miscellaneous weapons. ABCNEWS' Barbara Starr and David Ruppe contributed to this report.