Britons warned over Iraq travel amid rising tensions between US and Iran

British nationals are being warned against all travel to large swathes of Iraq amid the ratcheting of tensions after the US’s fatal drone strike on Iran’s top general.

The Foreign Office was also advising against all but essential travel to Iran and for those in the region to “remain vigilant” after the United States announced it was sending nearly 3,000 extra troops to the Middle East.

Travel advice updated on Saturday morning urged Britons against all travel to Iraq outside the Kurdistan region, and for those there already to consider fleeing by commercial means.

The FCO now advise against all travel to #Iraq, except for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where the FCO continue to advise against all but essential travel. Read more:

Posted by FCO travel – travel advice from the Foreign Office on Saturday, January 4, 2020

The warning came as thousands began to gather on the streets of Iraq for the funeral of General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by strike at Baghdad’s international airport a day earlier.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the updated advice was issued due to “heightened tensions in the region” and would be kept under review.

“The first job of any government is to keep British people safe,” he added.

Gen Soleimani was head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and masterminded Tehran’s regional security strategy.

Iran Soleimani
Iran Soleimani

US President Donald Trump said he ordered the strike to prevent a conflict, but Iran was threatening harsh retaliation.

The Foreign office’s advice also cited violent demonstrations outside the US embassy in Baghdad at the turn of the new year and warned further protests could take place.

Britons in the region were being urged to “remain vigilant and monitor the media carefully”. A warning against all but essential travel to the Kurdistan region remained in place.