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Iraq Travel Warning

Issued by U.S. Department of State

Feb 20, 2003

This Travel Warning is being issued to alert American citizens that following the temporary closure of the U.S Interests Section at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Baghdad, other embassies and consulates have also suspended operations in Iraq, further limiting any assistance to Americans. No consular services are available to U.S. citizens at this time in Iraq. The U.S. Government continues to urge all U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Iraq. U.S. citizens in Iraq should depart. This replaces the Travel Warning of February 7, 2003.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iraq, and there is no U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. While our interests in Iraq are represented by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Baghdad, due to the temporary closure of the U.S. Interests Section, there are no consular services available to U.S. citizens in Iraq. Following the temporary closure of the U.S Interests Section, other embassies and consulates have also suspended operations in Iraq, further limiting assistance any Americans can expect. The United Nations and the United States continue to impose sanctions which restrict financial and economic activities with Iraq, including travel-related transactions.

Conditions throughout Iraq remain unsettled and dangerous. The Iraqi regimes continuing refusal to cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspectors has led to mounting tension between Iraq and the international community. Foreigners present in Iraq have in the past been used as "human shields" by the regime during periods of confrontation with the international community. There are credible reports that foreigners may face the risk of kidnapping in Iraq.

Iraq continues to engage in a persistent pattern of challenges to the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. These challenges include firing on the aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones, illuminating them with surface-to-air missile radar, and placing bounties on coalition aircrews. Coalition aircraft respond in self-defense to Iraqi threats by striking Iraq's air-defense system. Injuries to civilians have resulted from Iraqi anti-aircraft ordnance returning to earth in populated areas.

U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in or through Iraq, unless they are validated by the Department of State. The only exceptions are the passports of American professional reporters or journalists on assignment in Iraq and Americans residing in Iraq as of February 8, 1991.

U.S. citizens who plan to travel to or remain in Iraq despite this travel warning, should consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, which are located on the Departments Internet site at http://travel.state.gov.

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