The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday they are ordering all non-emergency U.S. government employees to immediately leave Iraq.
The evacuation order applies to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil. Normal visa services will also be temporarily suspended.
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq,” the Embassy in Baghdad said.
The evacuation order comes three days after U.S. Embassy Baghdad issued a warning to all U.S. citizens to remain vigilant after heightened tensions in the country. It also comes after the U.S. government said they had evidence Iran and its proxy forces in the region were going to target Americans, according to the AP.
Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who is in charge of U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. does not want to fight Iran but will defend itself and its allies.
“First, it sends a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on U.S. interests will be met with unrelenting force,” McKenzie said at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies conference in Washington, D.C. “If a fight is to be had, we will be fully prepared to respond and defend our interests. And it won’t be a fair fight.”