US closes its Yemen embassy over violence escalation

The State Department has confirmed that it has closed the US Embassy in Yemen and evacuated its staff because of the political crisis and security concerns following the takeover of much of the country by Shiite rebels.
The department announced it had suspended operations at the embassy in Sanaa and relocated its remaining diplomatic personnel “due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation.”
The embassy had been operating with only a skeleton staff for some weeks amid deteriorating conditions.
Yemen has been in crisis for months, with Iran-linked Shiite Houthi rebels besieging the capital and then taking control.
Earlier, US officials said the embassy closure would not affect counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida’s Yemen branch.
“The United States remains firmly committed to supporting all Yemenis who continue to work toward a peaceful, prosperous and unified Yemen,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “We will explore options for a return to Sanaa when the situation on the ground improves.”
The State Department also issued a travel warning advising US citizens to defer travel to Yemen and urging US citizens currently living in Yemen to depart.

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