US orders non-emergency embassy staff to leave Baghdad, Erbil
The US State Department on Wednesday (May 15th) ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil, as tensions mount between the US and Iraq's neighbour Iran, AFP reported.
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 visit to Baghdad in a move to bolster ties with Iraq as it pushes ahead with its "maximum pressure" against Tehran.
He said he had made the trip because Iranian forces are "escalating their activity" and said the threat of attacks were "very specific".
Pompeo met with Iraqi President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, and spoke to them "about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it is able to adequately protect Americans in their country".