U.S. relocates staff in Iraq

Published August 11th, 2014 - 06:12 GMT

The U.S. State Department says it has relocated some of its staff members from the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil and the capital Baghdad amid an offensive by militants.

A "limited number of staff members" had been relocated from both the Irbil and Baghdad consulates, the State Department said on Sunday.

The decision came as the violence increased in Irbil which was followed by targeted U.S. airstrikes in the north of the country.

The notice announcing "the departure of some staff from the consulate general in Irbil" added the members were transferred "to the consulate general in Basra (southern Iraq) and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman," Jordan.

However, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General will continue to operate. "The Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Irbil remain open and operating," the notice stated.

The Embassy cannot take effective measures when it comes to situations where U.S. citizens encounter problems including arrests, according to the notice.

"The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited," the memo said.

Also, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf has said that there was no specific threat and that the relocation was made out of caution.

"While security concerns remain extremely high in Iraq, this limited move today is out of an abundance of caution rather than any one specific threat," Harf said in a statement.

The United States last week launched airstrikes against the militants who have overran parts of western and northern Iraq.

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