In this Wednesday, May 15, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Alexandrina Ross, right, and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Hunter Musil, left, inspect a bomb on the USS Abraham Lincoln while it sails in the Arabian Sea. U.S. diplomats warned Saturday, May 18, 2019, that commercial airliners flying over the wider Persian Gulf faced a risk of being "misidentified" amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Singley, U.S. Navy via AP)

The Latest: Iraq says Exxon Mobil staff are evacuating

May 18, 2019 - 7:11 am

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

An Iraqi oil official says employees of energy giant Exxon Mobil have started evacuating an oil field in the southern province of Basra.

The evacuation comes amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said all those who are being evacuated are foreigners or Iraqis who hold other nationalities.

The official did not give numbers but said the first group left two days ago and another batch left early Saturday.

Exxon Mobil, headquartered in Irving, Texas, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. has already ordered all nonessential diplomatic staff out of Iraq.

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Qassem Abdul-Zahra contributed reporting from Baghdad, Iraq.

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8:25 a.m.

U.S. diplomats are warning that commercial airliners flying over the wider Persian Gulf faced a risk of being "misidentified" amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

The warning relayed Saturday by U.S. diplomatic posts from the Federal Aviation Administration underlined the risks the current tensions pose to a region crucial to global air travel.

It also served as a grim reminder that 30 years ago, the U.S. mistook an Iranian passenger jet for a warplane after their last naval battle with Tehran, killing all 290 people aboard.

Concerns about a possible conflict have flared since the White House ordered warships and bombers to the region to counter an alleged, unexplained threat from Iran. President Donald Trump since has sought to soften his tone.

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