State Dept. Orders Evacuation of Non-Emergency US Government Employees from Iraq

This file photo shows an aerial view of Baghdad, Iraq, on April 3, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Dominique A. Pineiro)
This file photo shows an aerial view of Baghdad, Iraq, on April 3, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Dominique A. Pineiro)

The State Department has ordered all non-emergency U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in Irbil to leave the country, according to a statement posted on the embassy's website Wednesday.

Employees were ordered to "depart Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible" and avoid U.S. facilities in Iraq, according to the statement.

The statement did not provide a reason for the evacuation. Tensions in the region have risen since U.S. officials last week cited intelligence reports that neighboring Iran or its proxy forces were planning attacks on U.S. forces or interests, which Iran has denied.

U.S. military officials have said there is an elevated threat level facing U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Syria, primarily emanating from Iranian-controlled Shiite militias.

The U.S. sent a bomber group to the Middle East and expedited the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group's transit toward the Persian Gulf in light of the intelligence reports, U.S. officials have said.

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