The State Department on Friday told US citizens to leave Iraq “immediately,” after an American strike killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge US citizens to depart Iraq immediately,” the State Department tweeted.
“Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the US Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. US citizens should not approach the Embassy.”
Tensions in Iraq were already running high after pro-Iranian protesters laid siege at the US embassy earlier this week.
The US announced earlier Friday that it had killed the commander of the Iranian Quds Force in a strike on Baghdad’s international airport, which also killed the deputy chief of Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.
The US strike hit outside Baghdad airport early Friday but security sources told AFP it was still open to flights.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “severe revenge” after the United States killed General Soleimani.
“Martyrdom was the reward for his ceaseless efforts in all these years,” Khamenei said on his Farsi-language Twitter account in reference to Soleimani, also declaring three days of mourning.
“With him gone, God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped, but severe revenge awaits the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood and other martyrs’ in last night’s incident”.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed Soleimani had been killed early Friday, saying he was “martyred” in an attack by US helicopters on Baghdad airport.
Soleimani was one of the most popular figures in Iran and was seen as a deadly adversary by America and its allies.
Khamenei called Soleimani the “international face of the resistance” and said he was killed by “the most cruel of those on earth”.
All people who back the resistance would be his “avengers”, he added.
“The lack of our devoted and dear general is bitter, but continuing the fight and achieving final victory will embitter the murderers and criminals even more,” he added.
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