Employees of energy giant ExxonMobil have begun evacuating from an oil field in the southern Iraqi province of Basra but work at the field is still ongoing, Iraqi officials said Saturday. The evacuation comes amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran. The U.S. has already ordered all nonessential diplomatic staff out of Iraq.
As tensions escalate, there are concerns that Baghdad could once again get caught in the middle. The country hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those U.S. forces to leave.
An Iraqi oil official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said all those who are being evacuated are foreigners or Iraqis who hold additional national citizenships. The official did not give numbers but said the first group left two days ago and another batch left early Saturday.
“We continue to closely monitor. As a matter of practice, we don’t share specifics related to operational staffing at our facilities,” said Julie L. King, media relations adviser at ExxonMobil headquarters in Irving, Texas.
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