US evacuates some consulate staff from Iraqi city of Arbil

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position on the front line in Makhmur, about 280 kilometres north of the capital Baghdad, during clashes with Islamic State militants on August 9, 2014 (AFP Photo/Safin Hamed)

Washington (AFP) - The United States has evacuated some of its staff members from the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil, the State Department said Sunday, amid an offensive by Islamist militants.

The notice announcing "the departure of some staff from the consulate general in Arbil" came in the latest State Department travel warning for Iraq, dated just two days after a previous one.

The travel warning said the evacuation involved "a limited number of staff members" and that they had been relocated "to the consulate general in Basra (southern Iraq) and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman," in Jordan.

Some staff members from the US embassy in Baghdad have also been relocated to Basra and Amman, but that process had started last month.

The United States on Friday began a campaign of air strikes aimed at halting the advance of Sunni militants from the so-called Islamic State, which in recent days had come within striking distance of Arbil, the Kurdish capital.

US President Barack Obama had justified the strikes in part to protect US personnel stationed in Arbil.