The US State Department on Wednesday ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees from Iraq amid increasing tensions with Iran and warned American citizens not to travel to the country, citing a "high risk for violence and kidnapping".
The action also represents the latest manoeuvering by the Donald Trump administration in the Middle East, where the Pentagon has positioned a carrier strike group and a bomber task force, CNN reported.
The department said in a statement that employees working in the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Erbil were instructed to leave Iraq and that "normal visa services will be temporarily suspended at both posts".
The department said the sudden changes came due to the US government's "ability to provide routine and emergency services to US citizens in Iraq is extremely limited" and that as a result, the threat of "terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict" aimed at Americans in the country was too great a risk.
The orders from the State Department come a day after US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the Middle East, said that the Pentagon has increased the threat risk for US troops in Iraq and Syria.
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