US evacuating some personnel in Baghdad

 

As anti-government insurgents attack U.S.-trained troops in Iraq, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad will remain open with heightened security, according to the State Department. Some personnel, however, will be moved to safer locations.

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The embassy “remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders — supporting them as they strengthen Iraq’s constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Sunday.

According to Psaki, the embassy will review its staffing requirements “as a result of ongoing instability and violence in certain areas of Iraq.”

The staff in Baghdad will get additional security personnel, and some staff will be relocated to department sites in other parts of Iraq and Jordan, she said.

“Overall, a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.”

Psaki also advised that U.S. citizens traveling in Iraq “exercise caution and limit travel” to certain parts of the country.

“The United States strongly supports Iraq and its people as they face security challenges from violent extremists,” she said.

“The people of Iraq have repeatedly rejected violent extremism and expressed their desire to build a better society for themselves and for their children.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement late Sunday that the U.S. military is providing security for diplomatic facilities in Baghdad.

“A small number of DOD personnel are augmenting State Department security assets in Baghdad to help ensure the safety of our facilities,” he said.

“The temporary relocation of some embassy personnel is being facilitated aboard commercial, charter and State Department aircraft as appropriate,” Kirby added. “The U.S. military has airlift assets at the ready should State Department request them, as per normal inter-agency support arrangements.”

The United States has moved between 50 and 100 additional military personnel to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to help provide security, according to CNN.

The numbers include a mix of U.S. Army and Marine personnel, including Marines who specialize in high-threat embassy protection, a U.S. official told CNN.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Obama was again briefed on Iraq Sunday morning by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, according to a pool reporter traveling with the president in California.

--Mario Trujillo contributed to this report, which was originally published on June 15 at 4:09 p.m. 

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