US orders departure of non-emergency employees from Iraq
The US State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency government employees from Iraq, following Washington's repeated expressions of concern about so-called threats from Iran's allies in the Arab country.
The State Department ordered the pullout of the employees from both the US Embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil, the embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended,” it said, recommending that those affected depart as soon as possible.
"The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq," it added.
It was unclear how many staff members would leave.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced trip to Iraq on Tuesday, pressing Iraqi leaders about what he alleged were the increased dangers to Americans there from Iranian forces and their allies.
Despite this, the British general overseeing the so-called US-led coalition forces in Syria and Iraq has asserted that there has been “no increased threat from Iran” amid the US military buildup in the Persian Gulf.
British Major General Chris Ghika said at a Pentagon news briefing Tuesday that the coalition has seen “no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces” in the two countries.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said on Tuesday he was getting indications from talks with both the United States and Iran that “things will end well” despite the rhetoric.