Today, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a statement on the situation in Iraq. Spokesperson Psaki also addressed claims by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of a massacre in Tikrit. The Spokesperson said:
"The claim by [ISIL] that it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits in Tikrit is horrifying and a true depiction of the bloodlust that these terrorists represent. While we cannot confirm these reports, one of the primary goals of ISIL is to set fear into the hearts of all Iraqis and drive sectarian division among its people. We condemn these tactics in the strongest possible terms and stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people against these horrendous and senseless acts of violence. Terrorists who can commit such heinous acts are a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community. This underscores the need for Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum to take steps that will unify the country in the face of this threat. The United States will do its part to help Iraq move beyond this crisis and we urge all Iraqis to unite against this violence and continue to reject the path of hatred that ISIL represents."
Spokesperson Psaki underscored that the United States strongly supports Iraq and its people as they face security challenges from violent extremists. Spokesperson Psaki said:
"....The Embassy of the United States in Baghdad remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders -- supporting them as they strengthen Iraq’s constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats.
"As a result of ongoing instability and violence in certain areas of Iraq, Embassy Baghdad is reviewing its staffing requirements in consultation with the State Department. Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated -- both to our Consulate Generals in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman. Overall, a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.
"We advise U.S. citizens in Iraq to exercise caution and limit travel to Anbar, Ninawa, Salah ad-Din, Diyala, and Kirkuk provinces; make their own contingency emergency plans; and maintain security awareness at all times. We also encourage all U.S. citizens in Iraq to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at http://step.state.gov in order to receive the latest updates from the Department."
For more information: