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UK pulls staff at Iranian and Iraqi embassies as PM distances himself from Trump threats to cultural sites

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The US president has threatened to target Iranian cultural sites and sanction Iraq if it kicks US troops out.

The US president has threatened to target Iranian cultural sites and sanction Iraq if it kicks US troops out.

Britain has reduced staff at its embassies in Iran and Iraq to a minimum level amid security concerns after the killing of a top Iranian general in a US airstrike, Sky News understands.

The withdrawal of the diplomats from both countries is a precautionary step rather than based on specific intelligence of a threat, according to diplomatic sources.

The respective ambassadors – Rob Macaire in Tehran and Stephen Hickey in Baghdad – will remain in place.

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “The safety and security of our staff is of paramount importance and we keep our security posture under regular review. Both our embassies in Baghdad and Tehran remain open.”

Boris Johnson has been trying to distance Britain from the US as Donald Trump ramped up his rhetoric against Iran, threatening to target cultural sites.

Britain and its allies are bracing for possible retaliatory attacks in the region by Iran and its proxies in revenge for the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani as he was being driven out of Baghdad airport last week.

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