U.S. to Evacuate Many Staff Members From Baghdad Embassy

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Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army paraded in Baghdad on Sunday. Credit Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

ERBIL, Iraq —For the New York Times and Michael R. Gordon report: The American Embassy in Baghdad plans to temporarily evacuate a substantial number of its personnel this week and to increase security at the embassy in the face of a militant advance that rapidly swept from the north toward the capital, the State Department announced on Sunday.

The embassy, a beige fortress on the banks of the Tigris River within the heavily-secured Green Zone, where Iraqi government buildings are also located, has the largest staff of any United States Embassy.

The exact number of people being evacuated was not clear Sunday. The embassy would remain open, according to a statement from the department’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki,and many of its approximately 5,500 staff members would stay in Baghdad.

Many staff members who are leaving — the statement called it “relocating” — will be flown to Amman, Jordan, where they will continue their work at the embassy there, the statement said. Others will be shifted from Baghdad to consulates here in Erbil, in the northern Kurdish region, and in Basra, in the south, which are not now under threat by the militants.

Other Americans in Iraq, particularly contractors working for companies that had been training the Iraqi military on weapons systems purchased from the United States, have already been evacuated from the country.

“Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad,” the statement said.

Last week, in quick fashion, militants seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and then moved south and took other towns, vowing to march on to Baghdad. But over the weekend, the militant advance seemed to slow, while in Baghdad volunteers flocked to join newly reconstituted militias to defend the capital…(read more)

NYTimes.com



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