The US embassy in Baghdad on Friday urged American citizens in Iraq to “depart immediately”, for fear of fallout from a US strike that killed top Iranian and Iraqi commanders.
According to the embassy’s statement, “US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land”.
Earlier in the day, Pentagon officials confirmed that at the direction of the US President, the military had taken the decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani.
Soleimani was among the eight people who were killed in a rocket attack by the US on Baghdad international airport. The rocket attack comes days after a pro-Iran mob laid siege to the American embassy.
Friday’s targeted strike took place amid increased tensions between Washington and Tehran after hundreds of protesters stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, where they managed to breach the main gate and enter some rooms, lighting fires.
The siege was in response to an American attack on the positions of some Iraqi militia battalions in western Iraq on December 29 in which, 25 of militiamen died and more than 50 were injured according to the PMF.
The Pentagon said at the time that it had launched “defensive attacks” against Kataib Hizbollah, which operates under the umbrella of the PMF and is allegedly responsible for launching projectiles and rockets at US interests on Iraqi soil.
Earlier on Thursday, Pentagon chief Mark Esper asked Iran to stop its attacks against the US in the Middle East and said: “Attacks against us will be met with responses in the time, manner, and place of our choosing”.
(With inputs from agency)