The federal government is telling Canadians in Iraq to consider leaving the country in the wake of the killing of a top Iranian general.
In updated travel advisories on Friday, the government says the security situation in both Iraq and Iran “could worsen with little warning.”
“There is an increased threat of attacks against Western interests and of terrorist attacks in general.”
The government has been telling Canadians not to travel to Iraq since October, after widespread protests broke out.
As for travelling to Iran, the government says any visitors should exercise “a high degree of caution.”
“Violent demonstrations could occur in the coming days,” the travel advisory stated.
Matthew Fisher, a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and former foreign correspondent, told Global News that he believes the risks could go beyond Iran and Iraq.
“If I were a Canadian, I would not be travelling anywhere in the Middle East right now, not just in Iran and certainly not in Iraq either, but also to places such as Lebanon, where Hezbollah’s very strong,” he said.
He also anticipates that the death of Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani could result in kidnappings and terror attacks in Europe and possibly even North America.
Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, was killed along with Iraqi paramilitary leaders in a targeted drone strike near Baghdad’s airport on Friday, Jan. 3.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who ordered the airstrike, said that Soleimani was planning attacks on Americans. He called him the “No. 1 terrorist anywhere in the world.”
Iran has promised to retaliate against the U.S.
Soleimani’s death has sparked calls from world leaders for de-escalation on both sides over fears a greater conflict could break out.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister was among those calling for restraint on Friday.
François-Philippe Champagne also said the safety of Canadians in the region is of “paramount” concern.
There is a Canadian embassy located in Iraq, but not in Iran. For both countries, however, the government warns that the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance is very limited.
For those who decide to stay in Iraq or Iran or travel to either country, the government recommends taking precautions such as limiting your movements, being aware of your surroundings and monitoring media reports.
In Iran, it’s recommended that Canadians avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
–With files from David Akin