US orders all non-emergency embassy staff out of Iraq

The State Department has ordered all non-emergency government staff to leave Iraq immediately, as tensions escalate in the region.

By Associated Press

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq says the State Department has ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff to leave the country right away amid escalating tensions with Iran.

The alert, published on the Embassy’s website on Wednesday, comes after Washington last week said it had detected new and urgent threats from Iran and its proxy forces in the region targeting Americans and American interests.

On Sunday, the Embassy advised Americans to avoid travel to Iraq, citing “heightened tensions.”

Tensions have escalated between the U.S. and Iran in the last week. Last Sunday, Mr. Bolton announced that the U.S. would send a carrier group to the Mideast following intelligence that Iran planned to strike at American forces in the region.

The New York Times reported on Monday that President Donald Trump’s top national security officials met last week to offer the president several military options on Iraq. One plan included deploying 120,000 troops.

This week Iran began to formally move away from some its obligations under the 2015 nuclear accord, having sent an ultimatum to European leaders last Wednesday warning them that it would do so.

Adding to the rising feeling that a military conflict might be imminent, Saudi Arabia reported sabotage of its oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and an attack by drones on its oil pipeline. Saudi Arabia blamed Iran-supported Houthi rebels from Yemen for that strike, which damaged key infrastructure.