Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The United States rushed Thursday to evacuate hundreds of Americans from Iraq and was desperately making plans to rescue thousands of others as advancing al Qaeda-inspired forces vowed to attack Baghdad and topple the government.
There are about 5,000 American contractors remaining in the increasingly dangerous country, including a team that was bailed out Thursday from a base in Balad, an hour north of the threatened capital.
The three plane loads of Americans were mostly civilians who were part of one of the largest training programs for the Iraqi military – which so far has been largely impotent in the fight against bloodthirsty rebels.
Private companies were rushing American workers out of harm’s way as the country teetered on the brink of disintegration.
The State Department warned that US citizens remain “at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence,” and told them to avoid public places for fear of kidnappings or attacks.
Intelligence sources stated that officials are scrambling to find ways to get other Americans out fast if the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.
“We need places to land. We need safe and secure airfields,” one source said, noting the extremists are “seizing airfields and they have surface-to-air missiles, which very clearly threatens our pilots and planes if we do go into evacuation mode.”
As IraqiNews.com reported on Thursday, the U.S Embassy has prepared contingency plans to evacuate its staff from Baghdad.