US State Department orders all non-essential government personnel to leave Iraq

A US Navy Aviation Maintenance Administrationman deployed to the Persian Gulf

A US Navy Aviation Maintenance Administrationman deployed to the Persian Gulf

There has been a marked increase in US-Iranian tensions since US President Donald Trump's decision to try to cut off all of Iran's oil exports and to designate its Revolutionary Guards as a "foreign terrorist organisation".

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that while there will not be a full-scale war between his nation and the U.S., Washington will nonetheless be forced to retreat from the face-off as the Iranian people have a stronger resolve than Americans.

The U.S. State Department said employees at both the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil, capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, were being pulled out immediately due to safety concerns.

The presidential candidate and Iraq war veteran added, "What we're seeing instead are actions coming from President Trump and his administration, led by John Bolton, that are dangerously escalating us closer and closer toward a devastating war with Iran".

There is no US desire for war, said one official, who had returned earlier Wednesday from Europe with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"We have to avoid any war with Iran", Pelosi told her colleagues, according to a person in the room, who was granted anonymity to discuss the private caucus meeting.

"When you project force into a very volatile region and you've got real tension between Iran and the Saudis - we have to be careful".

The culprits have yet to be identified, and Iran is claiming innocence.

Illustrative photo of the United States embassy under construction as seen from across the Tigris river in Baghdad, Iraq, May 19, 2007.

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"We exercise maximum restraint in spite of the fact the United States withdrew", Mr Zarif said as he met his Japanese counterpart, Mr Taro Kono, in Tokyo.

Iran recently threatened to resume higher enrichment in 60 days if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the level permitted by the current one between Tehran and world powers.

Some observers speculate Tehran is seeking to retaliate over Washington's decision in April to put Iran's Revolutionary Guards on a terror blacklist - a move created to stymie their activities across the Middle East.

One or more vessels incurred light hull damage, but what caused the damage and who was behind it remains unknown.

Illustrative: Fishermen in waters off Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, near the Strait of Hormuz, on May 30, 2012.

The public dispute came as anti-war voices and foreign policy analystswarnedthat the United States, led by Bolton, may be attempting to manufacture a false pretext to justify launching a war with Iran.

Also on Wednesday, Germany - which has 160 soldiers in Iraq - suspended military training operations, citing increasing regional tensions, while the Netherlands suspended a mission providing assistance to Iraqi local authorities, Dutch news agency ANP said. German defense ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff said there was a "generally heightened alert" in the region but gave no specifics.

Democrats in Congress demanded that the Trump administration brief them on what it considers to be the Iran threat, warning that the United States legislature has not approved military action against Tehran.

"Congress has not authorized war with Iran... If (the administration) were contemplating military action with Iran, it must come to Congress to seek approval", he said.

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