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US orders non-essential embassy staff to leave Iraq

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-05-15 16:41

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat moves in the Persian Gulf near an oil tanker, July 2, 2012. [Photo/IC]

BAGHDAD - The US Embassy in Iraq said on Wednesday that the US State Department has ordered the non-emergency US employees working in both the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil to leave Iraq.

"Normal visa services at both posts (Baghdad and Erbil) will be temporarily suspended," an embassy statement said.

"The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq," the statement added.

Earlier, the US military said the US forces were on high alert in Iraq and Syria over fears of "imminent threats" from Iran-backed forces in the region.

The US measures came amid the tense situation in the region after US President Donald Trump decided not to re-issue the sanctions waivers for major importers to continue buying Iran's oil when they expired in early May.

The United States has also increased its military buildup in the region recently by deploying an aircraft carrier, bombers and anti-missile systems there, citing a threat of Iranian attack.

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