State Dept. urges US citizens to leave Iraq immediately


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The State Department is urging U.S. citizens in Iraq to leave immediately following an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump that killed key Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately,” the State Department tweeted.

Citizens are also warned not to approach the embassy in Baghdad and that all consular operations are suspended “due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound.”

Officials said the embassy in Baghdad, which was attacked by Iran-backed militiamen and other protesters earlier this week, is closed and all other consular services have been suspended.

The Green Zone in Baghdad, which includes the US Embassy, was completely locked down by Iraqi security forces to prevent any emergency following the strike, two Iraqi security sources told CNN.

This announcement from the State Department comes hours after President Trump ordered an airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

The killing, and any forceful retaliation by Iran, could ignite a conflict that engulfs the whole region, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond.

Around 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq, where they mainly train Iraqi forces and help to combat Islamic State militants.

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.

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