(JNS) The U.S. State Department ordered non-essential personnel at its embassy and at a consulate in Iraq to leave the country amid increasing tensions with Iran.
Visa services will be temporarily suspended at the Baghdad and Erbil posts.
Additionally, the State Department issued a warning this week for U.S. citizens not to travel to Iraq “due to terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. military’s Central Command, U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Urban, said in a statement that there were “possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq.”
Germany’s defense ministry also announced that the country has suspended its military operations in Iraq due to the Iranian threat.
Washington has increased pressure on Tehran over the past week with new sanctions and deploying two warships with fighter jets, in addition to a Patriot missile battery, to the Persian Gulf in response to Pentagon reports that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was planning an attack on U.S. forces or interests in the region.
All of these developments have caused European foreign ministers to call for de-escalation.
The Trump administration has been reviewing a military option that includes sending up to 120,000 troops to the Mideast were Iran to attack U.S. forces or increase its work on nuclear weapons, reported The New York Times on Monday evening, citing unnamed administration officials.
Officials told the outlet that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan proposed the idea at a meeting last week with the president’s top security advisers.
The plan does not call for a land invasion of troops, which would require more than 120,000 soldiers, said the officials.
Trump, however, denied the report.
“I think it’s fake news, OK? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we’re not going to have to plan for that,” he told reporters at the White House. “And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”