US ambassador to Iraq and other staff evacuated from Baghdad’s embassy for safety reasons

epa07728922 A member of the Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade (ERB) forces stands guard during a military operation in Tarmiyah town, northern Baghdad, Iraq, 20 July 2019. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Iraqi Shiite popular mobilization forces launched a military operation on the district of Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, against Islamic State (IS) sleeper cells, that are believed to have carried out the recent attacks that targeted the Iraqi security forces in northern Baghdad, Iraqi security officials said. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF

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The U.S. ambassador to Iraq and other staff were evacuated from their embassy in Baghdad for their safety on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said, as thousands of protesters and militia fighters outside the gate denounced U.S. air strikes in Iraq.

The United States has carried out attacks on the Shia armed group Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria, killing at least 25 fighters, the US Pentagon said on Sunday.

Washington said it targeted the Iran-linked group in western Iraq and eastern Syria in response to the killing of a US civilian contractor two days beforehand.

Iraqi security and militia sources said at least 55 fighters were wounded in the air attacks, adding that one of the raids had targeted the group’s headquarters near the western al-Qaim district on the border with Syria.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Monday condemned the U.S. air strikes on bases of Iranian-backed Iraqi militia. The U.S. strikes could pull Iraq further into the heart of a proxy conflict between the United States and Iran.

 

The two Iraqi foreign ministry officials did not say when the U.S. ambassador or other staff had left but added that a few embassy protection staff remained.

Saudi Arabia condemned attacks launched last week by Iranian regime-backed militias against American forces in Iraq, an official source said in statement published by the state-owned Saudi Press Agency.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Monday described the “exchange of strikes” between Hezbollah and US forces in Iraq as “unacceptable”, and called for restraint from both sides.

Syria condemned the US air attacks on the region, and expressed solidarity with Iraq and its people, state news agency SANA reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he congratulated US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “on the important operation by the United States against Iran and its proxies in the region”.

Via Reuters / Al Jazeera 

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