The United States is withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Baghdad ahead of the anniversary of the killing of Qasem Soleimani, as first reported by the Washington Post.
An official described the move as a temporary “de-risking” as tensions rise in the region, particularly with Iran, according to the Post. The reduced staffing is expected to continue after Jan. 3, which will mark the one year anniversary of the United States’ killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
US temporarily withdrawing Baghdad embassy staff ahead of Soleimani anniversary https://t.co/MB3bym7nPS pic.twitter.com/tTpzHjX7TI
— New York Post (@nypost) December 3, 2020
The exact number of staff members to be withdrawn is unknown, but a State Department official said Ambassador Matthew Tueller will remain in Iraq and the embassy will continue to function, according to the Washington Post. The State Department did not provide confirmation of the reduction but said that its “highest priority” is to secure the safety of U.S. government personnel. (RELATED: Here’s Where Biden’s Secretary Of State Pick Tony Blinken Stands On China, Iran, Russia, And More)
Tensions were further inflamed between Iran and the West when the Islamic Republic’s top nuclear scientist was killed last week. The Trump administration has continued to place more economic sanctions on Iran in recent months and has planned to further withdraw troops from Iraq before the end of President Donald Trump’s term.