US denies evacuating embassy personnel amid Baghdad unrest
Ensuring safety of US government personnel, citizens is 'highest priority,' says State Department
The US on Monday denied reports claiming it has begun evacuating diplomats from its embassy in Baghdad amid mass unrest after powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his resignation from politics.
A State Department spokesperson told Anadolu Agency that reports suggesting American personnel have started departing the embassy are “false.”
“Ensuring the safety of US government personnel, US citizens, and the security of our facilities remains our highest priority,” the spokesperson added.
Protesters stormed Iraq’s Republican Palace, the seat of the Iraqi government, shortly after al-Sadr announced he was quitting politics for good, a move likely to heighten tensions amid a months-long political crisis in the country.
The palace is in the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government agencies and several foreign diplomatic missions.
A curfew has been declared in the capital to quell the unrest.
Iraqi security forces fired heavily to disperse protesters from the vicinity of the palace and took full control of it, according to local media.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi suspended Cabinet sessions until further notice, state news agency INA reported, citing a government statement.
On Saturday, al-Sadr called on the country’s political parties to step aside and hold early elections to end months of political turmoil in Iraq.
He also called for all parties and people part of the political process since the US occupation in 2003 to be barred from politics.
Intra-Shia disputes have prevented the formation of a new government in Iraq since the last elections on Oct. 10, 2021.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.