U.S. evacuates some consulate staff from Iraqi city of Arbil
The U.S. began air strikes aimed at halting the advance of Sunni militants from the so-called Islamic State, which had come within striking distance of Arbil.
The United States evacuated some staff members from the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil, the State Department said Sunday, out of "an abundance of caution" amid an offensive by Islamist militants.
The notice announcing "the departure of some staff from the consulate general in Arbil," came in the form of a State Department travel warning for Iraq, just two days after a previous one.
Meanwhile State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed in a statement that the move was made "in light of the security situation in Iraq" and that the U.S. had "temporarily relocated a limited number of staff from Consulate Arbil to our consulate in Basra (southern Iraq) and to the Iraq support unit in Amman," Jordan.
"While security concerns remain extremely high in Iraq, this limited move today is out of an abundance of caution rather than any one specific threat," she said.
"Overall, a majority of our personnel in Arbil remain in place, and our consulate is fully equipped to carry out its national security mission."
"The U.S. consulate in Arbil remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders -- supporting them as they strengthen Iraq's constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats," she added.
The United States on Friday began a campaign of air strikes aimed at halting the advance of Sunni militants from the so-called Islamic State, which in recent days had come within striking distance of Arbil, the Kurdish capital.
US President Barack Obama had justified the strikes in part to protect U.S. personnel stationed in Arbil.
Iraqi Kurds say ‘hysterical’ Maliki must quitThe move comes in protest at Maliki’s branding Arbil as Islamic militant haven Middle East
Iraq's Maliki accuses Kurds of hosting ISISMaliki: Kurdish-controlled Arbil is becoming a base for ISIS militants Middle East
Will Iraq’s Kurds declare independence?Despite Arbil gaining more of an economic muscle, Iraq’s Kurds need more regional and international acceptance to declare independence Perspective
‘Become Iraqi to become a poet’: Arbil poetry festival builds bridgesArbil has turned its attention to a unified love of poetry, in a country where diplomacy and politics have failed Art and culture
As Iraq grapples with bombings, Arbil boomsAs central Iraq grapples with a surge in violence and a longer-term struggle to wean its economy off a dependence on oil, Abdullah Abdulkarim stands ... Features