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US citizens start leaving Iraq after air strike

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US citizens start leaving Iraq after air strike

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After a US air strike killed a top Iranian commander in Iraq, US citizens working for foreign oil companies in the southern Iraqi oil city of Basra started leaving the country on Friday.

Hours after the killing of Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was with him, the US embassy in Baghdad urged all its citizens to leave Iraq immediately.

Oil company sources said that dozens of foreign workers were expected to fly out of the country. A witness saw a number of foreigners, including US citizens, queuing to check-in at Basra airport and described the atmosphere as relaxed.

Iraqi officials said the evacuation would not affect oil operations, production or exports from the country.

US energy group Exxon Mobil declined to comment on whether it was evacuating staff but said production “continues normally” at its West Qurna 1 oil concession in the south of the country near the Iranian border. “We continue to watch the situation closely,” a spokeswoman said.

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