The US State Department on Wednesday ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil, as tensions mount between the United States and Iraq’s neighbor Iran. Washington has ramped up pressure on Tehran in recent days, accusing Iran of planning “imminent” attacks in the region, and bolstering the American military presence in the Gulf. ” The US last year shut its consulate in the protest-hit southern Iraqi city of Basra, blaming “indirect fire” by Iran-backed forces and warning its rival of retaliation for any damage. ” Pompeo met with Iraq President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, and spoke to them “about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country. ” The Pentagon said it was sending several massive, nuclear-capable B-52s to the region in response to “recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces.
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