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US State Dept tells Americans to leave Iraq ‘immediately’ after assassination of Soleimani

US State Dept tells Americans to leave Iraq ‘immediately’ after assassination of Soleimani
The US State Department is calling on all US citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” in advice issued on Friday, in the wake of the US killing of key Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

“US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land,” the State Department advised. “Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the US Embassy compound [in Baghdad], all public consular operations are suspended until further notice.”

The advisory comes in the immediate aftermath of the US assassination of Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, along with senior leaders of the Iraqi Shia militia in an air strike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning. The Pentagon claims the strike was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is committed to “de-escalation” following its “defensive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani.” In a series of similarly-worded tweets, Pompeo said he had spoken with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas about the killing.

Iranian officials have vowed to exact a “vigorous revenge” on the US for the death of Soleimani, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warning that “revenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands in his blood.”

The incident marks a serious escalation between the US and Iran, following heightened tensions over the siege of the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week. Protesters besieged the Green Zone site after a US air raid on an Iraqi Shia militia, with Washington blaming Iran for backing the assault on the embassy.

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