US To Close Its Consulate In Iraq's Barsa Citing Threats From Iran

Howard TerryOct 01, 2018

Washington, Sep 29 (IANS): The US has said it will close its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra and blamed increasing threats from Iran and Tehran-backed forces.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department said the consulate was placed on "ordered departure", which technically involves a drawdown in staff.

"There have been repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias directed at our Consulate General in Basra and our Embassy in Baghdad, including within the past 24 hours", he added.

Mr Pompeo, who accused Iran of failing to prevent recent rocket attacks he said were directed at the consulate, said there were "increasing and specific" threats against Americans and USA facilities in Iraq.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN that no consulate staff were harmed during the incident and the consulate itself was not hit, adding that USA diplomats in Baghdad and Washington were continuing to monitor the situation.

As reported by our site, earlier Iraqi protesters in Basra during anti-government rallies attacked the building of dippredstavitelstv Iran and the United States.

He repeated earlier warnings that the USA would hold Iran responsible for any harm to its citizens or facilities. "I have made clear that Iran should understand that the USA will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked all Americans to leave Basra, and State has issued a travel advisory for Americans warning them against travel to Iraq. In Baghdad in early September, assailants fired three mortar rounds into the Green Zone, a heavily fortified area which is home to the Iraqi parliament, government offices and the U.S. embassy.The rare attack did not cause casualties or damage.

In a speech addressing the United Nation's General Assembly speech earlier this week, President Trump hammered Iran over its support for terrorism and aggression against US allies in the Middle East.

At the same meeting, National Security Adviser John Bolton joined in the tough talk against Iran: "If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay", he said.

Protesters in Basra ransacked and torched the office of former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki this month and the Iranian consulate was set alight by demonstrators demanding fresh drinking water, basic services, and jobs.

President Donald Trump's administration has withdrawn from a nuclear deal with Iran, reimposed sanctions and vowed to roll back the Shiite power's role in the region including in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

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