US orders embassy personnel to leave Iraq

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.

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