The US State Department has told all US citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” in the wake of the US killing of senior Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force, was killed at Baghdad airport after his convoy was hit by US missiles
The interim prime minister of Iraq has condemned the assassination of the Iranian commander and called it an act of aggression against his country. Adil Abdul Mahdi said the US operation was a “flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty” and an insult to the dignity of his country.
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The State Department advised: “US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land…..Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the US Embassy compound [in Baghdad], all public consular operations are suspended until further notice.”
RT reports: The advisory comes in the immediate aftermath of the US assassination of Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, along with senior leaders of the Iraqi Shia militia in an air strike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning. The Pentagon claims the strike was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is committed to “de-escalation” following its “defensive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani.” In a series of similarly-worded tweets, Pompeo said he had spoken with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas about the killing.
Iranian officials have vowed to exact a “vigorous revenge” on the US for the death of Soleimani, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warning that “revenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands in his blood.”
The incident marks a serious escalation between the US and Iran, following heightened tensions over the siege of the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week. Protesters besieged the Green Zone site after a US air raid on an Iraqi Shia militia, with Washington blaming Iran for backing the assault on the embassy.