The United States has warned its citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq given the security situation in that country.
Travel within Iraq remains dangerous, the State Department said in a Travel Warning update on Thursday, which reminds U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Iraq, including kidnapping and terrorist violence. It has made clear that the ability of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to respond to situations where American citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.
At the same time, the Travel Warning notes that some regions within Iraq have experienced fewer violent incidents than others in recent years, in particular the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR). Although violence and threats against U.S. citizens persist, reported instances have lessened in the past six months.
Although Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) operations against these groups continue, terrorist activity persists in many areas of the country. While terrorist violence occurs at levels lower than in previous years, it occurs frequently, particularly in the provinces of Baghdad, Ninewa, Salah ad Din, Anbar and Diyala.
U.S. citizens have been advised to avoid areas near the Turkish or Iranian borders. As the Turkish military continues to carry out operations against elements of the Kongra-Gel terrorist group (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK) located along Iraq's northern border.
The resources available to the U.S. Embassy to assist American nationals who venture close to or cross the border with Iran are extremely limited.
All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission are advised to follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details. Detailed security information is available at the U.S. Embassy website.
The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide Consular services to its citizens throughout Iraq, including Baghdad, is particularly limited given the security environment. The U.S. Consulates in Basra, Erbil and Kirkuk cannot provide routine services such as passport applications, extra visa pages, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. U.S. citizens in need of these services while in Iraq must travel to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The Embassy highly recommends that all U.S. citizens in Iraq carefully review the status of their government documents and any necessary licenses and government authorizations to ensure that they are current and valid. They are urged to immediately correct any deficiencies in their government documents and are strongly advised against traveling throughout the country with deficient or invalid documents.
The United States completed its withdrawal of military forces from Iraq in December last year.
by RTT Staff Writer
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