(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of State is warning American citizens against “all but essential travel” to Iraq as a result of ongoing security situations in the region.
The Department of State relocated staff members from the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil to the Consulate General in Basrah and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman, officials announced Sunday. However, the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil are still operating.
In a statement, the agency cited the growing threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, along with cases of kidnapping and terrorist violence in the country.
“The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited,” representatives said.
U.S. citizens in Iraq face the risk of roadside improvised explosive devices on both people and cars, concealed mines, mortars, rockets, and shootings from direct fire weapons. Officials caution that such attacks occur in public places including cafes and markets.
Citizens are also advised to avoid areas near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian borders due to “skirmishes with smugglers” that have become commonplace.
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Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Samantha Beech, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN