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US pulls 'non-emergency staff' from Iraq as Iran tensions mount

May 16, 2019 5:46 am

The US state department has ordered the departure of “non-emergency employees” from Iraq, amid rising tensions between the US and Iraq’s neighbour Iran.

Staff at the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Irbil must leave as soon as possible on commercial transport.

Meanwhile, the German and Dutch armies have suspended training Iraqi soldiers.

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The US military said on Tuesday that the threat level in the Middle East had been raised in response to intelligence about Iran-backed forces in the region.

It contradicted a British general who had said there was “no increased threat”.

Chris Ghika, deputy commander of the global coalition against the Islamic State group, had told reporters that measures in place to protect US forces and their allies from Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria were “completely satisfactory”.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to dismiss rumours of White House infighting over his “strong policy in the Middle East”, adding: “I am sure that Iran will want to talk soon.”

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