US evacuates some staff from northern Iraq

The State Department on Sunday announced it had relocated some staff members from its consulate in Erbil, following increased violence and targeted U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq. 

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In a travel advisory posted to its website, the State Department said a "limited number" of staff had been relocated from both the Erbil and Baghdad diplomatic stations.

"The Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil remain open and operating," the agency said in its advisory.

It updated its warning from two days ago to include the staff from Erbil.

"The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited," according to the memo.

Staff were relocated to the U.S. Consulate in Basra, in southeast Iraq near Kuwait, and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman, Jordan.

"While security concerns remain extremely high in Iraq, this limited move today is out of an abundance of caution rather than any one specific threat," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.

"Overall, a majority of our personnel in Erbil remain in place and our Consulate is fully equipped to carry out its national security mission," she added. "The U.S. Consulate in Erbil 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."

In June, the U.S. moved some staff from the larger Baghdad Embassy to Erbil in northern Iraq due to the threat from Islamic extremists.

— This report was updated at 8:44 p.m.

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