US evacuating non-essential government officials in Iraq

Concerns of 'terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict' prompt US State Department to issue travel advisory.

Chana Roberts ,

Trump delivers remarks to US troops in an unannounced visit to Iraq
Trump delivers remarks to US troops in an unannounced visit to Iraq

The US State Department ordered all non-essential government employees to leave Iraq and issued a Level 4 travel advisory against traveling to the country.

Non-emergency US government employees in the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Erbil. Visa services in both Baghdad and Erbil were temporarily suspended, but the American Citizens Services in Baghdad will continue providing consular services to US citizens in Basrah.

According to the State Department's site, the decisions are "due to terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict."

"US citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-US sectarian militias may also threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad," the State Department wrote on its website.

"The US government’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to US citizens in Iraq is extremely limited.

"US citizens should not travel through Iraq to Syria to engage in armed conflict, where they would face extreme personal risks (kidnapping, injury, or death) and legal risks (arrest, fines, and expulsion).

"Additionally, fighting on behalf of, or supporting designated terrorist organizations, is a crime that can result in penalties, including prison time and large fines in the United States."