Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the turmoil raging across the Muslim world is likely to continue into the days ahead.

But he also says the violence appears to be leveling off.

He says the Pentagon has deployed forces to a number of areas as the military prepares to protect U.S. personnel and property that could be threatened by the protests. He declined to provide more details.

Protests by furious Muslims erupted in countries around the world in recent days, with some spawning violence and even deaths over an anti-Islam video filmed in California that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.

Panetta spoke to reporters on Sunday as he flew to Japan for meetings and to visit with U.S. troops.