The State Department has ordered all non-emergency U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in Erbil to leave the country, according to a statement posted on the embassy's website Wednesday.
With tensions between the two nations reaching risky levels, U.S. Democratic presidential candidates have joined progressive anti-war groups in vowing to oppose the Trump administration's efforts to start a military conflict with Iran.
Senior State Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the threat came from Iraqi militia "commanded and controlled" by Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
At the White House, Mr Trump, who has repeatedly argued for avoiding long-term conflicts in the Middle East, discounted a New York Times report that the U.S. has updated plans that could send up to 120,000 troops to counter Iran if it attacked American forces.
Per the NYT report citing Bolton's alleged plan, USA officials may be preparing to deploy up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter threats coming from Iran.
"There are only two reasons for ordering their departure: We have credible intelligence that our people are at risk or in preparation for military action in Iran".
Romney said it's "inconceivable" that Trump would start a conflict with Iran.
"There is absolutely no desire or interest in a military conflict with anybody", the official said. The United Arab Emirates said on Monday that four commercial ships off its eastern coast "were subjected to sabotage operations", but it has not named who it thought was behind the incident. "Taking us into a war without Congressional authorization would be unconstitutional and illegal".
"And if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that".
Some observers speculate Tehran is seeking to retaliate over Washington's decision in April to put Iran's Revolutionary Guards on a terror blacklist - a move created to stymie their activities across the Middle East.
Both the United States and Iran stated they don't want war, but the IRGC commander said on May 15 that it was "on the cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy", the Iranian Fars news agency reported.
"Ensuring the safety of United States government personnel and citizens is our highest priority and we are confident in the Iraqi security services' (ability) to protect us", he said.
Iran remains committed to its obligations under an worldwide nuclear deal despite the USA withdrawal from the landmark agreement, its foreign minister said on Thursday, calling the reimposition of U.S. sanctions "unacceptable".
Though Germany and the Netherlands said that they had suspended participation in a training mission for Iraqi troops, they cited general tension between the United States and Iran.
Former CIA chief John Brennan responded by tweeting, "Your refusal to accept the unanimous assessment of U.S. Intelligence on Iran, No. Korea, ISIS, Russia, & so much more shows the extent of your intellectual bankruptcy. That's Congress's job - and that's why I'm supporting this legislation to prevent a war with Iran". "I am committed to ensuring that majorities of the House of Representatives and the Senate make clear that before the president takes any military action, in Iran or anywhere else, he must seek authorization from Congress".
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