In a statement released on Sunday, the United States' State Department confirmed that it had issued an order on Friday, instructing eligible family members and nonessential government staff to evacuate the American Embassy in Iraq. The decision was made in response to a notable escalation in perceived security "threats."
“Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens,” the advisory said, telling personnel to leave the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in Erbil “due to increased security threats against U.S. personnel and interests,” the Washington Examiner reports.
In light of the volatile conditions in the region, the State Department's Sunday announcement indicated that the travel advisory for Iraq has been elevated to Level 4, denoting a “do not travel” status.
These directives coincide with a series of assaults on U.S. forces during the past week, amidst escalating tensions in the area. Defense officials reported two separate attacks in Iraq, one of which resulted in minor injuries to U.S. personnel.
Back on October 18, the U.S. military successfully foiled a drone assault targeting its forces in Iraq, as revealed by two U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters. They explained that two drones were “intercepted” just “prior to launching an attack.” The source or origin of the attack was not specified.
“We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched heading north along the Red Sea potentially towards targets in Israel,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said on Oct. 19.
The recent increased tensions within the region have heightened the threat of increased hostilities against U.S. personnel. These tensions have been exacerbated by the growing anger in Arab states, stemming from Israel's series of airstrikes and its plans for a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
These actions were prompted by a cross-border terror attack carried out by Hamas forces, which resulted in the killing over 1,400 Israelis and other foreign nationals earlier this month.