The State Department announced Sunday that an undisclosed number of personnel at the American Embassy in Baghdad would be temporarily relocated as Islamic militants advance through Iraq.
According to the New York Times, many of the "approximately 5,500 staff members" will remain in Baghdad. The embassy will remain opened with additional security, and most of the staff being relocated will be transported to Jordan:
Many staff members who are leaving — the statement called it "relocating" — will be flown to Amman, Jordan, where they will continue their work at the embassy there, the statement said. Others will be shifted from Baghdad to consulates here in Erbil, in the northern Kurdish region, and in Basra, in the south, which are not now under threat by the militants.
Other Americans in Iraq, particularly contractors working for companies that had been training the Iraqi military on weapons systems purchased from the United States, have already been evacuated from the country.
The evacuation of some staff and heightened security comes after the Islamic insurgent group, which captured two Iraqi cities last week, posted graphic photos of what they claimed was the execution of 1,700 Iraqi soldiers.
While the veracity of the photos have been questioned, both the Associated Press and the Iraqi military have since confirmed their authenticity. From USA Today:
The Associated Press said the images were verified and were consistent with its reporting. Iraq's top military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, confirmed the authenticity of the photos Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers.
[Image via AP]