The US State Department has ordered the departure of 'non-emergency government employees' from Iraq, in another show of concern about alleged threats from Iran.
US President Donald Trump's administration is applying new sanctions pressure on Tehran and sending additional forces to the Middle East to counter what it says is a heightened threat from Iran to US soldiers and interests in the region.
Iran calls that 'psychological warfare', and a British commander cast doubt on US military concerns about threats to its roughly 5000 soldiers in Iraq, who have been helping local security forces fight Islamic State jihadists.
The US State Department said on Wednesday that employees at both the US embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil, capital of semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, were being pulled out immediately due to safety concerns.
It was unclear how many personnel were affected, and there was no word on any specific threat. Visa services were suspended at the heavily-fortified US missions.
'Ensuring the safety of US government personnel and citizens is our highest priority ... and we want to reduce the risk of harm,' a State Department spokesman said.
Also on Wednesday, Germany, which has 160 soldiers in Iraq, suspended military training operations, citing increasing regional tensions. And the Netherlands suspended a mission providing assistance to Iraqi local authorities, Dutch news agency ANP said.
Both the US and Iran have said they do not want war, and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday he had indications 'things will end well' despite the rhetoric.
Earlier, Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami was quoted as saying Iran will defeat the American and Israeli alliance.
'We will defeat the American-Zionist front,' he said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
'Iran has the highest level of defence-military preparedness to confront any type of threat and excessive demands,' he added.
© AAP 2019