Insurgent threat prompts added security, reassignments at US embassy in Baghdad

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Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the east Baghdad neighborhood of Kamaliya, Iraq, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo)

Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the east Baghdad neighborhood of Kamaliya, Iraq, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The chaos created by the advance of an al-Qaida splinter group in Iraq has prompted the State Department to beef up security at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

And State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says some staffers are being moved out of Baghdad. The embassy, in the so-called Green Zone, has about 5,000 personnel. Psaki says “a substantial majority” will remain in place. But some staffers are being sent to more stable areas of Iraq. They’re being moved to consulates in areas controlled by the Kurds or Shiites.

In addition, about 100 Marines and soldiers have been sent to help with embassy security. A Pentagon spokesman says the military has “airlift assets at the ready” should the State Department request them. A U.S. military official said about 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to Baghdad to help with embassy security.

The instability has been sparked by the al-Qaida splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL. In addition to capturing two key cities and large swaths of territory, the Sunni extremists have also posted gruesome executions of captured Iraqi soldiers online. Psaki says the group has a “bloodlust.” It has warned it plans to attack Baghdad and Shiite shrines.

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