File photo showing Iraqi paramilitary fighters standing guard near the Iraq-Syria border on 11 November 2018
File photo showing Iraqi paramilitary fighters standing guard near the Iraq-Syria border on 11 November 2018

The US state division has ordered the departure of “non-emergency employees” from Iraq, amid rising tensions between the US and Iraq’s neighbour Iran.

Employees on the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Irbil should depart as quickly as attainable on business transport.

The US army mentioned on Tuesday that the menace stage within the Center East had been raised in response to intelligence about Iran-backed forces within the area.

It contradicted a British common who had mentioned there was no elevated menace.

Chris Ghika, deputy commander of the worldwide coalition towards the Islamic State group, instructed reporters that measures in place to guard US forces and their allies from Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria had been “completely satisfactory”.

“We are aware of their presence clearly and we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that is the environment we are in,” he added.

However a spokesman for the US army’s Central Command later disputed Gen Ghika’s feedback, saying they ran “counter” to the credible threats recognized by US and allied intelligence businesses.

Central Command, in co-ordination with the worldwide coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), had “increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria”, Capt Invoice City mentioned in an announcement.

“As a result OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq,” he added.

On Wednesday, Reuters information company cited Iraqi safety sources as saying that in a go to to Iraq earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had instructed Iraqi commanders that intelligence confirmed Iran-backed paramilitary fighters had been positioning rockets close to bases housing US troops.

“The message from the Americans was clear. They wanted guarantees that Iraq would stop those groups threatening US interests,” one of many sources was quoted as saying. “They said if the US were attacked on Iraqi soil, it would take action to defend itself without co-ordinating with Baghdad.”

Iraq’s Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, mentioned on Tuesday that its safety forces had not noticed “movements that constitute a threat to any side”.

Paramilitary teams skilled, armed and suggested by Iran have performed an necessary function within the battle towards IS in Iraq. They had been formally integrated into the Iraqi safety forces final 12 months, however proceed to function semi-independently.

Spokesmen for 2 of the teams instructed Reuters that the speak of threats to US forces was “psychological warfare” by Washington.

It was additionally reported on Tuesday that US investigators believed Iran or teams its supported had used explosives to break 4 tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday. Massive holes had been discovered within the hulls of the tankers, however no proof has been launched displaying a hyperlink to Iran.

Earlier this month, the US despatched an plane service and B-52 bombers to the Gulf.

There have been repeated warnings from Washington justifying the army build-up, primarily based on what Mr Pompeo described as an “escalation” in actions by Iran.

It got here after the US ended exemptions from sanctions for importers of Iranian oil.

President Donald Trump reinstated the sanctions final 12 months after abandoning a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and 6 world powers.

Iran has vowed to beat the measures, however its economic system is sliding in the direction of a deep recession and the worth of its foreign money has plummeted.

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