As tensions continue to rise between Iran and the United States, the US State Department ordered the departure of “non-emergency US government employees” from Iraq on Wednesday.
The statement urged those affected to “avoid US facilities within Iraq” and “depart by commercial transportation as soon as possible.”
The statement came after US Central Command (CENTCOM) raised the threat level in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, issuing a statement saying that American troops stationed there were on high alert against a possible “imminent” attack by Iran and its proxies.
“US Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria,” the statement says. “As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq.”
In an unusual rebuke, the statement countered claims made earlier in the day by a top British general, who is serving as the deputy commander of the coalition against the Islamic State group, that Iranian-backed militias posed no immediate threat to coalition troops in the region.
“There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” British Army Maj.-Gen. Christopher Ghika, a deputy commander with the OIR coalition, said during a video briefing from Iraq on Tuesday.
The statement by CENTCOM added that Ghika’s comments, “run counter to the identified credible threats” of Iranian-backed forces in the region.
Germany’s Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that it is suspending military training operations in Iraq due to increasing regional tensions.
Tensions have skyrocketed between Iran and the US in the past week, following intelligence reports that Tehran and its proxies might be preparing to attack American troops or allies in the Middle East.
The Pentagon approved the deployment of a B-52 bomber task force, one Patriot missile defense battery, an amphibious transport dock and an aircraft carrier strike group to CENTCOM’s region.
Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as saying that Tehran “will defeat the American-Zionist front,” but other Iranian officials have downplayed America’s recent military movements.
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