US orders departure of ‘non-emergency government employees’ from Iraq

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The US has ordered the departure of ‘non-emergency US government employees’ from Iraq, the US Department of State said in a statement on Wednesday.

Referring to the embassy and the US consulate in Erbil, a statement by the US embassy in Baghdad said “normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq.”

The statement recommended those affected “depart by commercial transportation as soon as possible”.

In a level four travel advisory, which read “do not travel”, the state department cited “terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict” as the reason behind the decision.

“US citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians,” the statement read.

They added that normal visa services will temporarily be suspended at both posts in Baghdad and Erbil.

They also said that US citizens should not travel through Iraq to Syria “to engage in armed conflict, where they would face extreme personal risks (kidnapping, injury, or death) and legal risks (arrest, fines, and expulsion)”.

“Additionally, fighting on behalf of, or supporting designated terrorist organizations, is a crime that can result in penalties, including prison time and large fines in the United States,” the statement read.

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