U.S. to close Consulate Basra in Iraq, citing threats from Iran

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-29 07:32:07|Editor: ZD
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department announced on Friday that it has decided to place its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra on "ordered departure," citing increasing security threats from Iran.

The decision was made by State Secretary Mike Pompeo, said the department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement, adding that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will continue to provide full consular services.

Minutes later, Pompeo said in a separate statement that there were increasing threats to U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq over the past several weeks, which he claimed came from the Iranian government, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC) and related militias.

Pompeo threatened that the United States will "respond promptly and appropriately" to any attack on Americans or U.S. diplomatic facilities by Iranian forces.

The consulate in Basra in the southern part of Iraq is one of three U.S. diplomatic missions in the war-torn country.

The White House said earlier this month that Iranian-backed forces in Iraq had carried out "life-threatening attacks" against the U.S. consulate in Basra and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

In response, Iran's Foreign Ministry condemned the White House claim as "irresponsible."

Such attempts to shift the blame onto others would not erase the U.S. "destructive" role in Iraq, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

Washington has slapped a number of sanctions on Tehran after U.S. President Donald Trump announced in May the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

Trump said on Wednesday that the United States will impose "tougher than ever" sanctions on Iran after the punitive actions against the country slated for November this year.