The U.S. government is withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Baghdad over the coming weeks as tensions rise with Iran, according to a U.S. official.
The partial drawdown of embassy personnel is timed to coincide with the first anniversary of a U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed a senior Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, on Jan. 3, due to concerns about retaliation from Iran or its allied militias, the official said.
The decision to pull some staff from the embassy came earlier this week during a meeting of the National Security Council’s Policy Coordination Committee, the official said. It couldn’t be learned how many people would be withdrawn from the embassy. While the State Department doesn’t disclose the number of people at the complex, the total has been estimated in the thousands.
The State Department said it continually adjusts staffing at facilities around the world but doesn’t comment on specifics of the adjustments. An official said U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller remains in Iraq and the embassy has continued to operate.
In a video the U.S. embassy released on its social-media accounts, Mr. Tueller said, “The temporary reduction of staff numbers will not affect the commitment of these dedicated personnel.”