US state department orders non-emergency govt. staff to leave Iraq fearing ‘imminent threats’

Baghdad, May 15: The United States Embassy in Iraq said on Wednesday that the US State Department has ordered the non-emergency staff at the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil to leave.

“Normal visa services at both posts (Baghdad and Erbil) will be temporarily suspended,” Xinhua news agency quoted an embassy statement as saying.

“The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq.”

Earlier, the US military said the American forces were on high alert in Iraq and Syria over fears of “imminent threats” from Iran-backed forces in the region.

The move comes amid the tense situation in the region after President Donald Trump decided not to re-issue the sanctions waivers for major importers to continue buying Iran’s oil when they expired in early May.

The US has also increased its military build-up in the region recently by deploying an aircraft carrier, bombers and anti-missile systems there, citing the threat of an Iranian attack.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had made an unscheduled, fleeting visit to Iraq, amid growing tensions with Iran. Details released by the US, however, did not make it clear whether he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi during his short visit here.

 

Also read: US’ Mike Pompeo makes unplanned visit to Iraq amid tensions with Iran

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