U.S. Orders Non-Emergency Personnel to Leave Iraq 'As Soon As Possible'
Concerns of threats posed by Iranian-backed forces in the area
"The U.S. State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees from Iraq, both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil," the U.S. Embassy and Consulates said.
"Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended.
"The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq."
The following list of "actions to take" was provided by the embassy.
- Depart Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible
- Avoid U.S. facilities within Iraq
- Monitor local media for updates
- Review personal security plans
- Remain aware of surroundings
- Review the complete Travel Advisory for Iraq
- Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas
The call for the non-emergency personnel to leave comes as U.S. Military has "reaffirmed concerns about possible imminent threats from Iran to its troops in Iraq," according to Reuters.
"A U.S. State Department spokesman said the decision to withdraw non-emergency staff was based on a security assessment, but would not give details on how many personnel were leaving," according to the report.
"Ensuring the safety of U.S. government personnel and citizens is our highest priority, and we are confident in the Iraqi security services' (ability) to protect us," the spokesman said.
"But this threat is serious, and we want to reduce the risk of harm," he added.
In January, President Donald Trump has branded the US intelligence agencies as “naive” and “wrong” following their annual ‘threat assessment’ of Tehran’s nuclear threat.
The New York Times reported yesterday that Trump was given a plan to deploy up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter the threat from Iran.
But later, Trump has denied the NYTimes report calling it 'fake news' (As Neon Nettle later updated).
“I think it’s fake news, OK?” Trump said of the Times report published late Monday.
“Now would I do that? Absolutely. But I have not planned for that. If we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”
Iranian officials have dismissed the U.S. response as an attempt at "psychological warfare," while the Iraqi prime minister said he has heard that discussions between the U.S. and Iran were progressing positively and would likely "end well."
Citing unnamed U.S. officials, NBC reports that the plan to deploy as many as 120,000 troops represents a "worst-case scenario contingency" should the U.S. and Iran go to war, according to the DailyWire.
"Under this scenario, 120,000 would be the sum total of U.S.troops already in the region, plus additional forces that would be deployed, mainly in the form of air forces and naval power, according to the officials," the network reports.