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Washington to Reduce Staff at Baghdad Embassy Amid Regional Tensions

Washington to Reduce Staff at Baghdad Embassy Amid Regional Tensions

Friday, 4 December, 2020 - 07:00
A general view shows the US embassy across the Tigris river in Iraq's capital Baghdad. (AFP)

The US is withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Baghdad, Iraqi and US officials said Thursday, temporarily reducing personnel amid regional security concerns.

US Ambassador Mathew Tueller said the reduction would not affect the mission’s work, adding that he will continue to carry out his duties from the embassy for the “foreseeable future.”

“I will do so with the support of a core team of American diplomats and US advisers to the Iraqi military,” he said in a video statement posted on the US Embassy’s Facebook page on Thursday evening.

This came following local reports that the US is withdrawing some Baghdad embassy staff as tensions with Iran and its allies spike, The Associated Press reported.

It was not immediately clear how many personnel were to be withdrawn, nor did Tueller give any reasons.

The partial withdrawal from the embassy is taking place amid a drawdown of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan announced by the outgoing Trump administration last month.

In Iraq, the US plans to reduce the number of troops from 3,000 to 2,500 by mid-January, before Trump is to leave office.

An Iraqi government official said the Iraqi government was notified of a partial withdrawal of some staff from the US Embassy as a “precautionary and security step.”

The official said that part of the withdrawals were partly due to staff finishing their rotations and others going on leave. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

In September, the Trump administration warned Iraq that it will close its embassy in Baghdad if the government fails to take decisive action to end rocket and other attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American and allied interests in the country.

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