Iran war fears: Threat to evacuate US diplomats from Iraq sparks panic

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There is now concern among some in Iraq that a possible closure the embassy and withdrawing diplomats could be a precursor to military action by the US against Iran and its proxies. The US has 5,000 troops still stationed in Iraq. Iran has been blamed for bomb and missile attacks on US and Iraqi troop installations in the country.

Missiles regularly strike the US diplomatic compound from across the Tigris.

The US embassy, located within the Green Zone, is the biggest US embassy in the world and is located in central Baghdad.

It has been Washington’s main base of operations in Iraq since the occupation after the 2003 invasion.

It has been reported the US has given Iraqi security forces the option to prevent the attacks on the US embassy.

If Iraqi security forces fail to do so then it is understood the US may begin an evacuation of its embassy staff.

With the US presidential election just weeks away, President Donald Trump has campaigned on a hard line towards Tehran and its proxies.

An Iraqi news website reported last week that US secretary of state Mike Pompeo Secretary threatened to close the US embassy in a phone call with Iraqi President Barham Salih.

An Iraqi cleric, called Moqtada al-Sadr, who is influential among millions of Iraqis, has pleaded for groups to avoid jumping to conflict in the vaccum left if the US does evacuate their embassy staff.

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A Western diplomat said the US does not “want to be limited in their options” in its bid to weaken Iran or pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.

This comment has added to the belief that military intervention could be behind any move to withdraw diplomatic staff from Baghdad.

The diplomatic staff said action may consist of a “strike” rather than the use of economic or military measures.

Earlier this month the US said it would reduce its military personnel in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000.

On Monday the Pentagon said it was committed to ensuring Iraq’s “security, stability, and prosperity” in the long term.

The Pentagon also announced that US military operations against Islamic State will continue.

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