NEWS
04/01/2020 08:56 GMT | Updated 04/01/2020 11:32 GMT

Foreign Office Warns British Travellers To Avoid Iraq And Iran

The government has changed its advice amid escalating tensions in the wake of Trump's assisination of Iranian general Soleimani.

British travellers have been warned to avoid all travel to Iraq and all but essential travel to Iran amid escalating tensions in the region. 

Thousands of people have taken to the streets following the assassination of Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani during an attack authorised by Donald Trump. 

As anger rose the Pentagon announced plans to send 3,000 more troops to the Middle East, while Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” following the airstrike. 

The relationship between Washington and Iran has fallen deeper into crisis since the US president withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.

In response to the worsening situation, the Foreign Office has updated its travel advice, warning British nationals to avoid Iraq entirely, and avoid all but essential travel to Iran. 

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: “The first job of any government is to keep British people safe.

“Given heightened tensions in the region, the FCO now advise people not to travel to Iraq, with the exception of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and to consider carefully whether it’s essential to travel to Iran.

“We will keep this under review.”

The FCO also warned British nationals in the region to “remain vigilant and monitor the media carefully”.

In it’s updated travel advice to Iran, the Foreign Office warned British nationals against visiting within 100km of the entire Iran/Afghanistan border, within 10km of the entire Iran/Iraq border, the province of Sistan-Baluchistan and the area east of Bam to Jask, including Bam.

The statement added: “You should avoid any rallies, marches, processions, and keep away from military sites.

“Follow the instructions of the local authorities at all times and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice.”

One of the reasons the FCO gave for the change in advice was that it was possible British nationals could be “arbitrarily” detained by authorities in Iran.

“There is a risk that British nationals, and a significantly higher risk that British-Iranian dual nationals, could be arbitrarily detained or arrested in Iran.

“The criminal justice process followed in such cases falls below international standards.”

The husband of imprisoned British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said her case is looking “a lot bleaker” following Soleimani’s death. 

The air strike “definitely pours cold water over the chances of progress in Nazanin’s case”, Richard Ratcliffe told HuffPost UK.

“The increase in tensions will put a freeze on any other rapprochement.”

The government has also updated its travel advice for Lebanon and urged British nationals in the country to “remain vigilant”.

The Foreign Office said British nationals should keep up to date with developments via the media and government websites, adding “the security situation in parts of Lebanon can deteriorate quickly”.

Similar travel advice has also been issued to British nationals in Israel, Afghanistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.