British nationals warned against travelling to Iraq and Iran

THE British Foreign Office has warned British nationals to avoid Iraq and all but essential travel to Iran amid “heightened tensions” in the region.
The fresh advice, updated on Saturday, comes after the death of General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Tehran’s elite Quds Force, who was killed in a US attack at Baghdad’s international airport on Friday.British nationals were advised against all travel to large swathes of Iraq, as well as all but essential travel to Iran.
Officials also warned those in the region to “remain vigilant” after the US announced it was sending nearly 3,000 extra troops to the Middle East. The warning came as thousands gather on the streets of Iraq for the funeral of General Soleimani. “The first job of any government is to keep British people safe.
“Given heightened tensions in the region, we now advise people not to travel to Iraq, with the exception of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and to consider carefully whether it’s essential to travel to Iran. “We will keep this under review,” Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said,
In its updated travel advice to Iran, the Foreign Office warned British nationals against visiting within 100 kilometres of the entire Iran/Afghanistan border, within 10 kilometeres of the entire Iran/Iraq border, the province of Sistan-Baluchistan and the area east of Bam to Jask, including Bam.
The statement added: “You should avoid any rallies, marches, processions, and keep away from military sites. “Follow the instructions of the local authorities at all times and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice.”
One of the reasons the FCO gave for the change in advice was that it was possible British nationals could be “arbitrarily” detained by authorities in Iran. “There is a risk that British nationals, and a significantly higher risk that British-Iranian dual nationals, could be arbitrarily detained or arrested in Iran. “The criminal justice process followed in such cases falls below international standards.”
Gen Soleimani was head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and masterminded Tehran’s regional security strategy.US President Donald Trump said he ordered the strike to prevent a conflict, but Iran was threatening harsh retaliation. After the killing was announced, Mr Raab issued a statement saying the Government had “always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force” led by the General. “Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests,” he added. It is understood there are no plans to send more British troops to the region.

-EVENING STANDARD UK