Speed Reads

New crisis in Iraq

State Department urges U.S. citizens to 'depart Iraq immediately' due to 'heightened tensions'

The State Department on Friday urged "U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately," citing unspecified "heightened tensions in Iraq and the region" and the "Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound."

Iranian officials have vowed "harsh" retaliation for America's assassination Friday of Iran's top regional military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, outside Baghdad International Airport. Syria similarly criticized the "treacherous American criminal aggression" and warned of a "dangerous escalation" in the region.

Iraq's outgoing prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, also slammed the "liquidation operations" against Soleimani and half a dozen Iraqi militiamen killed in the drone strikes as an "aggression against Iraq," a "brazen violation of Iraq's sovereignty and blatant attack on the nation's dignity," and an "obvious violation of the conditions of U.S. troop presence in Iraq, which is limited to training Iraqi forces." A senior Iraqi official said Parliament must take "necessary and appropriate measures to protect Iraq’s dignity, security, and sovereignty."

The Pentagon said President Trump ordered the assassination of Soleimani as a "defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad," claiming the Quds Force commander was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region."