Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Baghdad: As Iraq seems to be heading towards a deeper crisis with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continuing their onslaught, the United States has decided to evacuate some staff from its heavily fortified embassy in Baghdad.
Few staff from the US embassy in Baghdad will be relocated to the safer US consulates like Basra and nearby Kurdish territories, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. However she added that the US will retain “a substantial majority” of the embassy staff in Iraq.
Also, the US has reinforced the already high security presence at the embassy in Baghdad which is located in the Green Zone.
Also, there were reports of Australia too, relocating its embassy staff from Baghdad.
Meanwhile, even as Iraq security forces claimed to have halted the jihadists` advance the ISIS fighters were reported to have captured another town Tal Afar north of Baghdad.
Located on a route to access Syria, Tal Afar is said to be another strategically significant town taken by militants.
The Sunni militants` takeover of Tal Afar comes a week after they annexed Mosul and Saddam Hussein`s hometown Tikrit.
The US has suggested that it might team up with its arch foe Iran and hold talks on how to drive away the surging ISIS advance into Iraq, which may pose danger for both the US and Iraq.
Iran too, had yesterday suggested that it might work in collaboration with the US to fight the ISIS militants.
The Iraq issue is expected to surface during nuclear talks in Vienna, when world powers will negotiate with Iran over its controversial N-programme, a US official told the AFP.
US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Iraian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are due in Vienna for the same, reported the AFP.
Iran`s Hassan Rouhani had also offered to help Iraq directly but avoided sending troops like the US, which has sent its aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush to the Gulf along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun.
Weary of a long costly war in Iraq, US President Barack Obama has ruled out sending combat US troops to Iraqi soil, but is weighing options on how to tackle the recent crisis in Iraq.
A tweet from an ISIS twitter account said that 1700 Shia Iraqi forces had been massacred.
Adding to the gruesomeness, the militants also posted some graphic photos of soldiers` execution on jihadist forums that showed masked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gunmen loading the soldiers onto trucks and then forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch with their arms behind their backs. They also posted disturbing images of the bodies of the captured soldiers covered in blood after being shot by the ISIL members.
Though the photos` authenticity has not been verified yet, if confirmed to be genuine, it will be the most fierce crisis since the bloodshed of 2006-07 that was followed by US invasion of Iraq in 2003.