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Cablegate: Travel Warning - Iraq

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 064225

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC ASEC PTER IR
SUBJECT: TRAVEL WARNING - IRAQ

1. This Travel Warning updates the current security
situation and reiterates the dangers of the use of
civilian aircraft and of road travel within Iraq. This
supersedes the Travel Warning of July 23, 2007.

2. The Department of State continues to strongly warn
U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq, which remains very
dangerous. Remnants of the former Baath regime,
transnational terrorists, criminal elements and numerous
insurgent groups remain active throughout Iraq.
Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I) and Iraqi Security Forces
(ISF)-led military operations continue, and attacks
persist against MNF-I and the ISF throughout the country.
Turkish government forces have carried out operations
against elements of the Kongra-Gel (KGK, formerly
Kurdistan Worker's Party, or Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan
(PKK)) terrorist group that are located along Iraq's
northern border.

3. Despite recent improvements in the security
environment, Iraq remains dangerous, volatile and
unpredictable. Attacks against military and civilian
targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the
International (or "Green") Zone. Targets include hotels,
restaurants, police stations, checkpoints, foreign
diplomatic missions, and international organizations and
other locations with expatriate personnel. Such attacks
can occur at any time. Kidnappings still occur; the most
recent kidnapping of an American citizen occurred in
August 2007. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs),
Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs), and mines often are
placed on roads, concealed in plastic bags, boxes, soda
cans, dead animals, and in other ways to blend with the
road. Grenades and explosives have been thrown into
vehicles from overpasses, particularly in crowded areas.
Rockets and mortars have been fired at hotels, and
vehicle-borne IEDs have been used against targets
throughout the country. Occasionally, U.S. Government
personnel are prohibited from traveling to certain areas
depending on prevailing security conditions. In addition
to terrorist and criminal attacks, sectarian violence
occurs often. Detailed security information is available
on the Embassy's web site at (http://iraq.usembassy.gov) and
at (http://www.centcom.mil).

4. Military aircraft arriving and departing from Baghdad
International Airport (ORBI) have been subjected to small
arms and missile fire. Travelers choosing to utilize
civilian aircraft to enter or depart Iraq should be aware
that, although there have been no recent attacks on
civilian aircraft, the potential threat still exists, as
well as does the high risk to road transportation
described above. Official U.S. Government (USG) personnel
are strongly encouraged to use U.S. military or other USG
aircraft when entering or departing Iraq. All personnel
serving in Iraq under Chief of Mission (COM) authority are
prohibited from entering or departing ORBI on commercial
airlines unless approved by the Regional Security Office
(RSO) on a case-by-case basis. Other personnel not under
COM authority must be guided by their own agency.

5. The Embassy is located in the International Zone. The
Embassy can provide only limited emergency services to
U.S. citizens in Iraq. The U.S. Government considers the
potential threat to U.S. Government personnel assigned to
Iraq sufficiently serious to require them to live and work
under strict security restrictions. At present, travel to
and from the International Zone is extremely limited.
Unofficial travel to Iraq by U.S. Government employees and
their family members requires prior approval by the

STATE 00064225 002 OF 002


Department of State. The U.S. Embassy does not provide
visa services to the general public. American citizens
who choose to visit or reside in Iraq despite this Travel
Warning are urged to take responsibility for their
personal security, avoid crowds, especially rallies or
demonstrations, and to inform the U.S. Embassy of their
presence in Iraq. All Americans in Baghdad are strongly
encouraged to register with the Embassy at the following
website:

https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/

6. American citizens may obtain the latest security
information or other information about Iraq by contacting
the U.S. Embassy, located in the International Zone, via
landline at: 1-240-553-0589, via Iraqna cellular phones at
07901-191-0058/57/56/54/53/52/49/48, via e-mail to
baghdadacs@state.gov, or by accessing the U.S. Embassy's
website at (http://iraq.usembassy.gov). The after-hours
numbers in cases of extreme emergency are Iraqna 07901-
732-134 or GSM 914-822-1370.

7. Updated information on travel and security in Iraq may
be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-
407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or for
callers outside the United States, a regular toll-line at
1-202-501-4444. For further information, please consult
the Country Specific Information for Iraq, as well as the
Worldwide Caution, all of which are available on the
Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at
(http://travel.state.gov/).

8. Minimize considered.
RICE

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