US Department of State warns all US citizens to ‘depart Iraq immediately’
The warning comes in the wake of the US extermination of Qassem Soleimani – commander of Iran’s Quds Force, several senior leaders of the Iranian-controlled Iraqi Shia militia in an air strike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning.
“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 Pentagon said the strike to eliminate Qassem Soleimani was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
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.”