Protesters damage property inside the U.S. embassy compound, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec 31, 2019. Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday after smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
As the situation between the United States and Iran becomes more precarious, the US Embassy in Baghdad released a statement warning Americans in the country to leave immediately. They released the statement mere hours after the U.S. killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds force, in an airstrike carried out in the country.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the US Embassy urges American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately,” they said. “US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land.”
President Donald Trump explained that the airstrike was launched “to stop a war,” claiming that the general “was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him.”
The Department of Defense stated that Soleimani was responsible for hundreds of American deaths. His actions also led to many U.S. soldiers being seriously injured in Iraq. Most recently, he is alleged to have been behind the attacks on coalition bases in Iraq, one of which killed an American defense contractor.
Iranian Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called for three days of nationwide mourning for the general — despite the fact that some Iranians were celebrating his death. He called the general an “eminent example of a person trained in Islam.”
He then vowed revenge against the ones responsible for Soleimani’s killing. “The continuing fight & ultimate victory will be more bitter for the murderers & criminals,” he tweeted.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi stated that the attack was “a dangerous escalation that will light the fuse of a destructive war in Iraq, the region, and the world.” US troops in the region remain on high alert.
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