US Tells Non-Essential Embassy Staff to Leave Iraq

Iranian leader issues veiled threat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2019 4:19 AM CDT
Updated May 15, 2019 6:41 AM CDT
US Tells Non-Essential Embassy Staff to Leave Iraq
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with governmental officials in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, May 14, 2019.   (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The US Embassy in Iraq says the State Department has ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff to leave the country right away amid escalating tensions with Iran. The security alert, published on the embassy's website on Wednesday, comes after Washington last week said it had detected new and urgent threats from Iran and its proxy forces in the region targeting Americans and American interests. On Sunday, the embassy advised Americans to avoid travel to Iraq, citing "heightened tensions."

Iran's supreme leader issued a veiled threat in a speech Tuesday night, saying it wouldn't be difficult for the Islamic republic to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels amid rising tensions with the US, Iranian state media reported Wednesday. In the same speech, however, he said "no one is seeking war." Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments came after Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a coordinated drone attack on a critical oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. A satellite image obtained by the AP shows one of the two pumping stations attacked by the drones apparently intact. (The Pentagon has reportedly updated its plans for possible military action against Iran.)

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