Entry/Exit: US orders departure of government employees from US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 29. Visa services temporarily suspended.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert affects Baghdad

This alert began 29 Dec 2019 20:50 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Jan 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: US Embassy evacuated
  • Location: US Embassy in Baghdad (map)
  • Date: Dec. 29
  • Impact: Increased security, visa services temporarily suspended

Summary
The US government has begun evacuating its employees from the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 29. No specific reason has been given, but the move transpires two days after a number of rockets targeted K-1 Airbase in Kirkuk, which killed a US defense contractor and injured several US and Iraqi military personnel. The order to evacuate the US Embassy also comes after the US military struck at least five Kata'ib Hizballah or Hizballah Brigades' military positions in Iraq and Syria in retaliation to the attack against the K-1 Airbase. Kata'ib Hizballah is a Shi'a paramilitary group that is closely linked to Iran.

Visa services at the diplomatic mission have been temporarily suspended.

Background and Analysis
A US journalist has reportedly been abducted in Baghdad, Dec. 29. No additional details are known about the incident.

The recent security incidents take place amid ongoing heightened tensions between Iran, the US, and its allies. A number of similar incidents have occurred in recent months in Baghdad. On Oct. 30, two mortar shells struck the International (Green) Zone, killing an Iraqi soldier and injuring several others. On Nov. 29, a mortar shell struck the Green Zone but left no casualties. The latest rocket attack comes amid ongoing violent nationwide anti-government protests that began Oct. 1. Clashes between protesters and security forces have left hundreds of protesters dead and thousands injured. The ongoing demonstrations have raised concerns about militia and militant groups exploiting the country's security situation to increase the pace and severity of their attacks.

Advice
If operating in Iraq, exercise extreme caution. Maintain contact with your diplomatic mission. Carry proper identification and travel documents. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by security personnel. Remain alert to your surroundings at all times.

Resource
US Embassy and Consulates in Iraq: iq.usembassy.gov


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