New York | The US State Department on Friday issued a directive to US citizens to depart Iraq immediately because of the heightened tensions in the region.
“Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the US Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended,” the department said on Twitter. “US citizens should not approach the Embassy.”
The warning Friday followed President Donald Trump’s order for a US airstrike that killed one of Iran’s most powerful generals, sending global markets tumbling as Iran’s Supreme Leader threatened “severe retaliation.”
Qassem Soleimani, who led proxy militias that extended Iran’s power across the Middle East, was killed in a drone attack in Baghdad authorised by Donald Trump, the Defense Department said in a statement late Thursday.
The president had no immediate comment, but tweeted the image of an American flag while the US embassy in Baghdad urged its citizens to leave the country.
The move sent oil prices spiking and global markets tumbling.
“A big fat dollop of geopolitical uncertainty has landed on investors desks,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.
There was no immediate indication how Iran would respond, but Tehran has seized oil tankers in the past and shot down a US military drone.
The US government blames Iran for attacks on tankers and a September assault on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry that temporarily cut its production by half.
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