The US State Department on Wednesday ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and also the consulate in Arbil, as tensions mount between the United States and Iraq’s neighbor Iran.
Washington has ramped up pressure on Tehran in recent days, accusing Iran of planning “imminent” attacks in the region, and bolstering the American military presence in the Gulf.
“Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians,” a travel advisory warned.
“Anti-US sectarian militias may also threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq.”
The US last year shut its consulate in the protest-hit southern Iraqi city of Basra, blaming “indirect fire” by Iran-backed forces and warning its rival of retaliation for any damage.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week paid a surprise trip to Baghdad in a move to bolster ties with Iraq as it pushes ahead with its “maximum pressure” against Tehran – a US arch-rival, but an ally of Iraq.
‘Very specific threats’
He told reporters he had made the trip because Iranian forces are “escalating their activity” and said the threat of attacks were “very specific.”
Pompeo met with Iraq President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, and spoke to them “about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country.”
The Pentagon said it was sending several massive, nuclear-capable B-52s to the region in response to “recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces.”
Both Pompeo and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have this week played down fears that their countries were seeking conflict.
But National Security Advisor John Bolton warned Iran that Washington would respond with “unrelenting force” to any attack by Tehran, including by its regional allies.
Blasts involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of Iraq, including the capital Baghdad, the advisory added. Arbil is the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, in northern Iraq.
Final Emmys beckon for TV stars of ‘Thrones’ and ‘Veep’
TV stars from Westeros to the White House will hit the red carpet in Los Angeles on Sunday as "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" take their final tilts at Emmys glory.
The long-running HBO smash hits helped the premium cable network raise the game for the small screen -- with 74 Emmys between them, they are among the most decorated shows ever at television's answer to the Oscars.
Both hope to add to their record hauls before they bow out at the glittering ceremony in downtown LA's Microsoft Theater.
While the divisive final season of "Thrones" enraged many fans, it is the Television Academy's 24,000-plus voters who get to choose the winners.
WATCH: Trump admits he talked to Ukraine president about Joe Biden and his son
President Donald Trump Sunday morning admitted he brought up Joe Biden and the former Vice President’s son Hunter Biden while speaking with the President of Ukraine.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption,” Trump said, speaking to reporters from the White House lawn.
BREAKING: President Trump admits that he talked to the Ukrainian president about former Vice President Biden. #MTP #IfItsSunday@kristenwelker: "From the president's perspective, the only way to put this story to bed is to release the transcript." pic.twitter.com/aaJ6DjMN0E
‘Left wing hack’: Fox News fans lose it after anchor calls Ukraine allegations ‘a problem’ for Trump
Fox News viewers lashed out at the network on Sunday after host Arthel Neville grilled New York Congressman Peter King (R) about President Donald Trump's alleged effort to get Ukraine to help him defeat Joe Biden.
Neville twice asked King about Trump's Ukraine scandal, and both times he evaded the question by saying that Congress does not have a right to know the details of Trump's conversations with foreign leaders.
On her third attempt, Neville got to the point by noting Trump's alleged actions are "a problem."
"We don’t know that it’s true, we hope it’s not true," the Fox News host said of the allegations against Trump. "But if there is a possibility that our president used his office to put pressure on a foreign government -- president-elect -- to dig into his possible, potential political opponent, then that’s a problem."