DFA warns Pinoys not to travel to Iraq, as tensions in region escalate

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2020 11:43 PM | Updated as of Jan 04 2020 01:46 AM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about airstrikes by the US military in Iraq and Syria, at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, US, December 29, 2019. With him are US Army General Mark Milley and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Reuters, Tom Brenner

MANILA—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday called on Filipinos traveling or who are about to travel to Iraq not to go there until further notice, as tensions continued to flare in the region.

In a statement, the DFA also advised Filipinos in Iraq to coordinate with the Philippine Embassy there and their employers in the event that a mandatory evacuation is necessary.

Filipinos can call the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad at (+964) 781-606-6822; (+964) 751-616-7838; and (+964) 751-876-4665.

They can also contact the embassy at baghdad.pe@dfa.gov.ph, or through its Facebook page, Philippine Embassy in Iraq.

Earlier, a US strike killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy head of Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi military force at Baghdad's airport.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in television interviews the attack was launched to disrupt an "imminent attack" that would have endangered Americans in the Middle East.

"He was actively plotting in the region to take actions - a big action as he described it -- that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent," Pompeo told CNN, echoing an earlier Pentagon statement on Thursday.

Iran has threatened to retaliate after the overnight US airstrike against the second most powerful figure in Iran that marked a dramatic escalation in the Iran-US conflict in the Middle East.

The strike was authorized by US President Donald Trump, who separately said on Friday that Soleimani, "was plotting to kill many more" Americans but also gave no other details.

Democratic US lawmakers, however, said they had not been briefed about any imminent Iranian plot or the planned US strike, and warned the Trump administration against pursuing war without congressional approval.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, echoed Pompeo, lauding the US strike and praising Trump for taking the action. — With a report from Reuters