WASHINGTON -- The State Department says the U.S. consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra is being evacuated following attacks blamed on Iran-backed militias. The U.S. embassy in Baghdad will provide full consular services for Basra and the surrounding area, the State Department said.
The "ordered departure" of the consulate was announced Friday by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Tuesday that Iran-supported militias "recently" launched rocket attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Basra.
The move to evacuate Basra comes as the Trump administration is increasing pressure on Iran ahead of powerful sanctions set to go into effect in November.
Basra is Iraq's main port and one of its largest cities. Earlier this month,at the city's airport following a chaotic and violent night that saw hundreds of protesters burning tires on main streets and highways and setting ablaze the Iranian consulate in the city.
Protesters called for an end to endemic corruption, soaring joblessness and poor public services and have turned their rage on neighboring Iran, blaming its outsized influence in Iraq's political affairs for their misery.