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US orders embassy personnel to leave Iraq

Outraged Iraqi protesters storm the US Embassy in Baghdad, protesting Washington's attacks on armed battalions belong to Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi forces on December 31, 2019 [Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency]
Outraged Iraqi protesters storm the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq on 31 December 2019 [Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

The State Department has ordered some US government employees at diplomatic facilities in Iraq to leave the country, the Embassy in Baghdad said on Thursday. The move came hours after two rockets hit the so-called Green Zone where most diplomatic buildings and compounds are located.

"Designated" employees were ordered to leave the US Embassy and the diplomatic support centre in the Iraqi capital, as well as the US Consulate General in the northern city of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The alert was sent to all US citizens in the country. Security concerns and restricted travel options resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic were cited as the reasons for the pullout.

A second message issued minutes later said that diplomatic officials were working to find options for US citizens to leave "on the next available commercial flight opportunity". The plans may be hit by global travel disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

READ: Remembering the US Invasion of Iraq 2003 

Asia & AmericasIraqMiddle EastNewsUS
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