MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday, January 3, urged all Filipinos to cancel any travel to Iraq, following a US strike that killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad’s international airport.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs calls on all Filipinos to cancel, until further notice, any travel to Iraq in view of the current situation in the country,” the agency said in a statement Friday night.
The DFA also strongly urged Filipinos in Iraq to stay in close coordination with the Philippine embassy and their employers should mandatory evacuation become necessary.
A crisis Alert Level 3 for voluntary repatriation is currently in place in all areas in Iraq, except for the Iraqi Kurdistan region which remains under Alert Level 1 or a “precautionary phase.” There is also an existing deployment ban of new workers and household workers to Iraq.
The DFA said direct conflict in Iran was “presently unlikely.”
What happened? Top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US strike at Baghdad’s international airport on Friday, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries. The Pentagon said US President Donald Trump ordered Soleimani’s “killing,” after a pro-Iran mob this week laid siege on the US embassy.
Iran, furious over the assassination, threatened to take “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s death, sparking fear it could inflame regional tensions in the Middle East.
World leaders have appealed for the two countries to show restraint, emphasizing the need to de-escalate tensions and avoid deadly conflict. Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said the US strike, which also killed an Iraqi commander, was an “aggression” that would “spark a devastating war.”
What Filipinos in Iraq can do: The DFA said Filipinos in Iraq can contact the Philippine embassy at (+964) 781-606-6822, (+964) 751-616-7838, and (+964) 751-876-4665. It can also be reached via email at email@example.com or through its Facebook page: Philippine Embassy in Iraq.
The DFA gave assurances it was closely monitoring the situation in Iraq and was prepared to send a rapid response team if necessary. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com