Iraq Travel Warning for US Citizens

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Iraq. Travel within Iraq remains very dangerous, and the ability of the Embassy to assist U.S. citizens facing difficulty is extremely limited. This supersedes the Travel Warning dated December 4, 2015.

U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence.  Anti-U.S. sectarian militias may threaten U.S. citizens and western companies throughout Iraq.  Kidnappings and attacks by improvised explosive devices (IED) occur frequently in many areas of the country, including Baghdad.

Methods of attack have included explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles, human and vehicle-borne IEDs, mines placed on or concealed near roads, mortars and rockets, and shootings using various direct fire weapons.  Such attacks often take place in public venues such as cafes and markets.  Facilities of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the U.S. Government, and western interests remain possible targets, as evidenced by the April 17, 2015, bombing near the entrance to U.S. Consulate General Erbil.

Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq, including Da’esh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL).  Da’esh controls Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, as well as significant territory in northern, western, and central Iraq, particularly along the Tigris and Euphrates valleys.  They regularly attack Iraqi security forces in those areas.  The Embassy is unable to assist U.S. citizens who face difficulty in Da’esh-controlled areas.

The U.S. Government particularly warns private U.S. citizens against traveling to Iraq to engage in armed conflict. In addition to the extreme personal risks of kidnapping, injury, or death posed by such actions, legal risks include arrest, fines, and expulsion.  Since the closure of the border between Syria and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), the government of the IKR has stated that it will impose prison sentences of up to ten years on individuals who illegally cross the border.

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