Europe

Germany urges citizens to leave Iraqi capital

BERLIN (AP) — Germany called on its citizens Thursday to immediately leave parts of Iraq, including Baghdad, as Islamic insurgents push toward the capital.

Germans should leave the governorates of Anbar, Ninevah and Salah al-Din, the Foreign Ministry said in a travel warning on its website. It also urged German citizens to temporarily leave Baghdad, and expressed concern about the situation in Diyala and Kirkuk governorates.

Earlier Thursday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had described the events in Iraq as a dramatic escalation. "The situation is alarming, because the fighting threatens to plunge not just Iraq but the entire region, which has been knocked out of balance by the war in Syria, further into violence and chaos," Steinmeier told German daily Bild in an interview published online.

The Foreign Ministry estimates that the number of Germans in Iraq runs in the low thousands, with many living permanently in the Kurdish-controlled north of the country.