US Partly Evacuates Iraq Embassy After Accusing Iran of Escalating Tensions

Trump denied Tuesday that the administration was planning to send more than 100,000 troops to counter Iran if necessary

The US on Wednesday ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil, as tensions mount between the United States and Iraq's neighbour Iran, prompting Kremlin concern.

Iran's Defense Minister, Amir Hatami, was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as saying that Tehran "will defeat the American-Zionist front", but other Iranian officials have downplayed America's recent military movements.

But a British general said Tuesday there had been "no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria".

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, asserted that the USA wants a "deterrent" there in case Iran wants to "come after an American interest".

On Wednesday, the United States was more specific, saying there was an "imminent" threat to United States personnel in Iraq from Iraqi militias allegedly controlled by Tehran.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin "still regards this nuclear agreement as the basis for Iran not having any nuclear weapons in the future, and we regard this as existential for our security". "Neither we nor them (the US) seek war", he said.

On Tuesday, Iran's Ayatollah, Seyed Ali Khamenei, said that any confrontation between the U.S. and Iran would not be "a military one", and that "there was not going to be any war".

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In a series of tweets, Trump sought to portray the situation as under control, saying there was no discord in the White House and that Iran would want to negotiate.

"Recent comments from OIR's deputy commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region", it said.

But since the first U.S. warning on May 5, the only activity seen has been a still-mysterious "attack" Monday on tankers anchored off Fujairah, an Emirati port located at the strategically crucial entrance to the Gulf. Major General Christopher Ghika was speaking via video-link from Baghdad during a Pentagon news conference.

Germany's Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that it is suspending military training operations in Iraq due to increasing regional tensions. As a result, "the USA chose to investigate further and speak with Iraqi officials involved, and this is why Pompeo came".

Last week the Trump administration rushed military assets to the region in response to what it said were "credible threats"...

Senator Bob Menendez, the senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations panel, demanded a briefing "immediately" on the threat intelligence, any plans for war and the decision to order embassy staff out of Iraq.

Pompeo told Russian officials in the Black Sea resort of Sochi that the U.S. "fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran".

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