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Iraq travel warnings updated by US State Department

For more than a decade, the travel restrictions to Iraq have come with a strict warning from U.S. government officials, but recently, the nation increased its security for all corporate and leisure travel.

The U.S. State Department released a statement on June 16 stating that all U.S. citizens should avoid all but completely essential travel to Iraq.

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Currently, all travel to Iraq is designated as dangerous with the current security situation, which has forced the State Department to relocate some of its staff members from the Embassy to the Consulates General in Basrah and Erbil, as well some members of the Iraq Support Unit in Amman.

As of now, the Embassy will stay open and fully operational through the travel warning, but the State Department is still warning U.S. citizens about the continual security issues in Iraq.

"Overall, 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," said Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, according to the Associate Press.

Threats and violent activity on the rise
According to the press release, there have been reports of kidnapping and terrorist violence in Iraq, which increased the security measure. Additionally, the U.S. is urging its citizens to avoid travel to Iraq because of the lack of the U.S. Embassy's power to respond to situations where an American is either arrested or facing difficulties abroad.

Several other incidents and attacks on U.S. citizens include roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as explosively formed penetrators (EFPSs), magnetically-placed IEDs on vehicles and other human and vehicle-carrying IEDs, the press released stated.

The Embassy warned the pubic about possible mines and other explosives that are often used in public settings such as cafes, markets and other high-traffic public venues. According to the press release, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), formally known as al-Qaida, as well as other insurgent groups have maintained an active level of terrorist activity and violence in many areas of the country since 2007.

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