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US Advises Citizens Not to Travel to Iraq After Recent Attacks on US Personnel

The U.S. State Department said on Sunday U.S. citizens should not travel to Iraq after recent attacks on American troops and personnel in the region.

The travel advisory says, “Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.”

There has been a spike in attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza broke out. Last week, a U.S. warship shot down more than a dozen drones and four cruise missiles fired by Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen.

The advisory followed the ordered departure of eligible family members and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from U.S. Embassy Baghdad and U.S. Consulate General Erbil “due to increased security threats against U.S. personnel and interests,” the State Department said in a statement.

The statement added that anti-U.S. militias “threaten U.S. citizens and international companies” throughout Iraq. Earlier on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said they saw the prospect of a significant escalation in attacks on American troops in the Middle East and of Iran seeking to widen the Israel-Hamas war.

Washington is on heightened alert for activity by Iran-backed groups as regional tensions soar during the Israel-Hamas war, which began after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing over 1,400 people.

Israel has since retaliated with deadly air strikes on Gaza, a 45 km-long (25-mile) strip of land that is part of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and home to 2.3 million people that has been ruled politically since 2007 by Hamas. Israel’s air strikes have killed over 4,700 people, Palestinian officials say.

“Because of security concerns, U.S. government personnel in Baghdad are instructed not to use Baghdad International Airport,” the State Department said on Sunday.

The United States has sent a significant amount of naval power to the Middle East in recent weeks, including two aircraft carriers, their support ships and about 2,000 Marines.

The U.S. will send a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and additional Patriot air defense missile system battalions to the Middle East, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

Source : Reuters