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US citizens should leave Iraq immediately, State Department warns

US citizens should leave Iraq immediately, State Department warns
Posted at 8:49 AM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 13:08:45-05

Americans are being urged to leave Iraq following an airstrike ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump that killed Qassem Soleimani, a key Iranian military commander, at Baghdad International Airport early Friday.

"Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately," the State Department said on Twitter. "Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy."

The State Department added that U.S. citizens should "depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land."

However, the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, which is located in northern Iraq, will continue to be open for visa and American Citizen Service appointments, according to a statement from the State Department.

The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” according to the Associated Press. It also accused Soleimani of approving the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has vowed revenge for the killing.

American citizens in Iraq or those concerned about family in Iraq can contact the Department of State at 1-202-501-4444 or toll-free in the U.S. at 1-888-407-4747.