US tells American citizens to leave Iraq 'immediately'
The United States has urged all its citizens in Iraq to depart the country immediately due to ‘heightened tensions’ in the region, as a result of an airstrike targeting Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
The Pentagon confirmed that the incident took place in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump early on Friday morning at Baghdad airport. The level four travel advisory has warned citizens to stay away from the US Embassy in Iraq, which was attacked on Tuesday by a local militia.
Watch this news report on the situation:
On Twitter, the US Department of Travel issued a statement which read: "Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately. 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."
Per CNN, the United Kingdom's foreign minister Dominic Raab's has issued a statement urging all parties to de-escalate, which reads: "We have always recognized the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani. Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests."
Meanwhile, per CNN, Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi claims that the US airstrike violates the conditions for the presence of American troops in the country.
The Prime Minister stated: "It is a flagrant violation of the conditions for the presence of the American forces in Iraq and their role which is supposed to be limited to training Iraqi forces and fighting ISIS within the international coalition forces, under the supervision and approval of the Iraqi government."
As a presumed response to the strike, President Trump has simply tweeted an image of the American flag. Only time will tell whether this incident will lead to increased hostilities.