US Embassy in Baghdad to Send Some Personnel Out
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - With Baghdad threatened by the advance of an al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency, the State Department is reinforcing security at the US Embassy in Iraq's capital and sending some personnel out of town.
Much of the embassy staff will stay in place, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The statement did not say the number of personnel affected. The embassy, along the Tigris River in Baghdad's Green Zone, is the largest US diplomatic post in the world.
Some embassy staff members were being temporarily moved elsewhere to more stable places at consulates in Basra, in the Shiite-dominated south of Iraq, and Irbil, in the Kurdish semi-autonomous region in northeastern Iraq, and to Jordan, she said.
"Overall, a substantial majority of the US Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission," she said.
US travelers in the country were encouraged to exercise caution and limit travel to certain parts of Iraq, AP reported.
"Due to the relocation of personnel from Baghdad, the embassy will only be restricted in its ability to offer all consular services; but emergency services are always available to US citizens in need at any embassy or consulate anywhere in the world," Psaki said.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement that a "small number" of military personnel are helping to keep State Department facilities in Baghdad safe. He said embassy personnel are being moved by commercial, charter and State Department aircraft, adding that the US military has "airlift assets at the ready" should the State Department request them.
A US military official said about 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to Baghdad to help with embassy security.