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Wed 15 May 2019 02:30 PM

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US orders all non-emergency gov't staff to leave Iraq

US Embassy in Baghdad warns of heightened tensions in the country

US orders all non-emergency gov't staff to leave Iraq
(AFP/Getty Images)

The United States on Wednesday ordered all non-emergency government employees to leave Iraq immediately.

“The US State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency US Government employees from Iraq, both at the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Erbil,” the US Embassy in Baghdad said on Wednesday in a statement on its official website.

“Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq,” the statement added.

American government employees still within Iraq were ordered to depart Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible, avoid US facilities within Iraq, monitor local media for updates and review personal security plans.

The order comes three days after the embassy warned American citizens of “heightened tensions in Iraq and the requirement to remain vigilant” and just over two weeks since the embassy and Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) officials celebrated the launch of a $5 million US Government-funded Iraq airport security program.

“Airports are gateways to the world. This cooperative program will not only improve passenger safety for the Iraqi people, but will bolster Iraq’s ability to attract foreign investors, expand global trade linkages, and encourage economic growth,” US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Joey Hood, was quoted as saying on May 2.