U.S. removes some staff from embassy in Baghdad, adds security

Embassy will stay operational


June 15--As violence flares in Iraq, the United States is pulling some staff members out of its embassy in Baghdad and adding security.

"Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated" to other parts of Iraq and to Jordan, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The embassy is to stay operational: "A substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission," Psaki said.

A State Department spokeswoman refused to say how many staffers were being removed from the embassy, citing security considerations.

The State Department advised U.S. citizens to "limit travel" in Anbar, Nineveh, Salahuddin, Diyala and Tamim provinces, as well as to make contingency plans for emergencies and to be cautious and aware.

Americans in Iraq should register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for updates, the department said.

Earlier Sunday, a string of explosions rocked Baghdad, killing at least 15 people, according to the Associated Press. Agence France-Presse reported that six people were killed when a recruitment center in central Iraq for volunteer fighters was hit by mortar rounds. And an Al Qaeda splinter group -- the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS -- posted photos online apparently showing the summary executions of dozens of Iraqi soldiers captured in Tikrit.

Last week, ISIS fighters launched a blitz in Mosul -- Iraq's second-largest city and an important oil hub -- that saw Iraqi army and police units shed their uniforms and literally run for their lives.

"The United States strongly supports Iraq and its people as they face security challenges from violent extremists," the State Department statement said. "The people of Iraq have repeatedly rejected violent extremism and expressed their desire to build a better society for themselves and for their children."

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