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Exxon Mobil, Other Companies Evacuating Personnel From Iraq

Flames emerge from burning excess gas from the oil fields in Basra. File photo

In a series of evacuations of personnel and citizens by Western and Gulf countries from Iraq in recent days, Exon Mobil is reported to be evacuating 50 U.S. employees from an Iraqi oil field.

Although the company has not made an announcement, DPA quoted sources in the Iraqi oil industry saying that the evacuation began Saturday, May 18.

Tensions between Iran and the United States spiked in May, when U.S. began deploying more naval forces and warplanes to the Persian Gulf region. This followed months of Iranian threats that it would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz and target the interests of the U.S. and its regional allies.

On May 12 four civilian vessels were mysteriously attacked near the coast of the United Arab Emirates and Yemen’s pro-Iran Houthi rebels targeted Saudi oil installations with drones.

The U.S. put its forces in Iraq and Syria on high alert and announced the withdrawal of non-essential embassy staff from Iraq. Bahrain followed suit on May 18 by ordering its citizens to immediately leave Iraq and Iran.

Exxon Mobil’s evacuation reportedly began from the West Qurna 1 site in Iraq’s southern Basra province, with employees being flown to the UAE.

The same sources said operations at the oil field are not interrupted.

Other foreign companies providing logistical services in the area are also preparing to evacuate their employees, according to these sources.

The U.S. has also warned airlines using the region’s airspace to be on notice that there could be a danger of being misidentified by Iran.

Reporting by DPA