September 24, 2019 The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday ordered the departure of non-essential American government employees from Iraq, both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil.
A U.S. Department of State security alert issued on Tuesday advises Americans to avoid travel to Iraq. Americans in Iraq are reminded to remain vigilant. Due to heightened tensions in the region, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to American citizens in Iraq. Attacks in major cities may occur without warning, particularly after dark. U.S. citizens and places where U.S. citizens are known to gather are likely to be targeted in such events.
The move comes just hours after two rockets hit near the U.S. embassy in Iraq’s capital Baghdad. One of the rockets exploded inside the Green Zone and another landed in the Tigris river, a statement from Iraqi security services said.
Similar attacks have been blamed on Iranian-backed militias in Baghdad that want U.S. troops stationed in Iraq to leave. Iraq fears it could be caught in the middle of any regional conflict between Iran and the United States.
The latest rocket attacks occurred amid heightened tensions in the region following attacks on Saudi oil plants. Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks but U.S. and Saudi government investigations determined Iran was behind the attack.
U.S. — Iran Tensions
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday called on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations. Iranian officials have repeatedly blamed the U.S. presence for creating instability in the region’s waterways. President Rouhani criticized the new U.S. – led coalition patrolling the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic Guard Corp’s military arsenal.