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Wed, 15 May 2019 13:48 - Updated Wed, 15 May 2019 13:48

U.S. orders departure of non-emergency gov't employees from Iraq

BAGHDAD-- The U.S. Embassy in Iraq said on Wednesday that the U.S. State Department has ordered the non-emergency U.S. employees working in both the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil to leave Iraq.

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"Normal visa services at both posts (Baghdad and Erbil) will be temporarily suspended," an embassy statement said.

"The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq," the statement added.

Earlier, the U.S. military said the U.S. forces were on high alert in Iraq and Syria over fears of "imminent threats" from Iran-backed forces in the region.

The U.S. measures came amid the tense situation in the region after U.S. President Donald Trump decided not to re-issue the sanctions waivers for major importers to continue buying Iran's oil when they expired in early May.

The United States has also increased its military buildup in the region recently by deploying an aircraft carrier, bombers and anti-missile systems there, citing a threat of Iranian attack,XINHUA.

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