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US asks citizens to leave Iraq

The U.S. on Friday urged American citizens to leave Iraq immediately in the aftermath of an airstrike that killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad. "Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the U.S. Embassy urges American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately," the embassy said in a statement. The embassy asked its citizens to leave Iraq by air or relocate to a second-country via land routes.

"Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound [in Baghdad], all public consular operations are suspended until further notice," it said. 

For those who need consulate support, the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, will be in service, it added.

The U.S. confirmed Thursday that it carried out a strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force.

The Pentagon accused Soleimani of planning to carry out attacks on U.S. diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region, saying the slain leader was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members.

The attack came amid heightened Iranian tensions with the U.S. which culminated with the storming of the U.S. Embassy compound by Iraqis on Tuesday.

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