The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says a number of embassy staff members have been withdrawn from Baghdad due to the deteriorating security situation.
Islamic militants have taken over a swathe of territory in northern Iraq in an offensive that has brought fighting to within 80km of the capital.
“The Australian embassy remains open with reduced staffing levels,’’ DFAT says in its latest travel advice.
The New York Times reports the US embassy is also preparing to evacuate “a substantial number” of its 5500 staff in the face of the relentless insurgent advance.
The $600 million, fortress-like embassy on the Tigris River is the heart of what used to be known as the Green Zone, a heavily fortified and defended compound in the heart of Baghdad.
A US State Department spokeswoman said in a statement that key staff will stay in place, but would not reveal how many will be pulled out.
“Overall, a substantial majority of the US Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission,” she said.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement that a “small number” of military personnel — believed to be 100 Marines and US Army troops — were being sent to help keep State Department facilities safe in Baghdad.
Full article: The US embassy is preparing to evacuate Baghdad as Tal Afar falls and Iraq masses forces at Samarrah (Herald Sun)