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US State Department orders all non-essential government personnel to leave Iraq

US State Department orders all non-essential government personnel to leave Iraq

Earlier this week, Maj Gen Chris Ghika, the deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, the USA -led force combatting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, told reporters: "No, there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria". "The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq", the statement said.

Zarif, who is in Japan and is set to visit China on Friday, said Iran was exercising "maximum restraint".

A week ago, the White House announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region in response to intelligence that Tehran was planning an attack against USA targets or United States allies.

The White House says that Iran, a longtime enemy and rival of U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, is sowing instability across the region.

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that expects the pressure on Iran will bring it to the negotiating table.

"It is directly linked to Iran, multiple threat streams directly linked to Iran", said one official.

The sanctions were introduced by president Trump due to Iran developing nuclear weapons and threatening allies like Israel.

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Washington officials said they had detected signs of Iranian preparations for potential attacks on United States forces and interests in the Middle East have not elaborated on that threat. And, following Pompeo's meeting, some Iraqi sources have indicated that the United States may consider Iraq as a bridge to an eventual dialogue with Iran - a role the Iraqis may be willing to play.

An Iraqi official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that Pompeo, in fact, delivered Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi a flash drive with recordings of pro-Iranian Iraqi groups preparing to attack U.S. interests in the country.

Blasts involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of Iraq, including the capital Baghdad, the advisory warned, adding that normal visa services would be suspended.

The Trump administration ordered the withdrawal of all non-emergency personnel from the USA diplomatic mission to Iraq after the administration announced Iran or its proxies in the region were an escalating threat.

National Security Advisor John Bolton warned that Washington would respond with "unrelenting force" to any attack by Tehran, including by its regional allies.

The ongoing escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran started in early May, when the Trump administration claimed it had intelligence indicating a looming attack by Iranian forces against U.S. interests. Major General Christopher Ghika was speaking via video-link from Baghdad during a Pentagon news conference. The Iraqi source said US staff were headed for a military base at Baghdad airport. They have also told reporters that further military action is on the table.

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