The Pentagon barred lawmakers from visiting Iraq and Syria in the weeks surrounding the holidays, House Armed Services Committee spokesperson Monica Matoush confirmed Tuesday.
The prohibition was first reported by The Washington Post, which cited a Dec. 16 memo signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper barring government, congressional and allied nations' "senior level visits" to Iraq and Syria until Jan. 15.
The move came ahead of a spike in violence in Iraq in recent days.
On Sunday, the U.S. bombed five sites — three in Iraq and two in Syria — belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militant group, in retaliation for a rocket attack Friday in northern Iraq that killed a U.S. contractor.
After an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, Esper said "additional forces" were being sent to reinforce the compound and urged the Iraqi government to assist in protecting U.S. personnel there. President Donald Trump blamed Iran for the embassy attack and the rocket attack in a tweet Tuesday morning.
The Pentagon did not immediately comment on the travel restrictions.
The Pentagon has previously limited congressional travel to war zones at times of heightened security concerns.
A congressional aide, however, told POLITICO "there was not a clear reason given why, in this case, the restrictions were put in place."
A bipartisan delegation of House lawmakers traveled to the Middle East and Italy over the holidays, leaving the U.S. on Dec. 22 and returning on Dec. 27. In the Middle East, the lawmakers — all members of the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs Committees — traveled to Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, but not Iraq or Syria.