The State Department on Wednesday ordered all “non-emergency U.S. government employees” to leave Iraq amid soaring tensions with Iran, which backs proxy forces there.
It said in a statement that the announcement affects both the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Baghdad, and a consulate in the northern city of Irbil.
“Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended,” the department said. “The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq.”
The Trump administration has accused Iran of supporting “imminent attacks” on U.S. personnel in the region but provided details or evidence. Instead it has used a burst of diplomacy and briefings to try to win support for an increasingly aggressive stance against Tehran.
Officials have spotlighted recent U.S. decisions to deploy an aircraft carrier, strategic bombers and other military assets to reinforce troops across the Middle East. They have also told reporters that further military action is on the table.
But European military allies have questioned whether the threat level against U.S. assets has shifted in recent weeks.
“We haven’t seen anything convincing yet, but tensions are definitely rising,” said one Western diplomat, who was not authorized to discuss the issue with the press and spoke on the condition of anonymity.