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Saturday 25 January 2020

Gardai to carry out US embassy security review

US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Gardai are carrying out a review of the security of the US ambassador to Ireland, Edward Crawford, as tensions in the Middle East continue to increase.

As well as reviewing Mr Crawford's personal security, officers from the force's secretive Security and Intelligence section are carrying out a risk assessment of his residence in the Phoenix Park and the US Embassy in Ballsbridge.

Threat

A senior source also revealed that security at Shannon Airport - which is controversially used by US military aircrafts - is also being examined as part of the review.

However, it is understood that the threat level against the US ambassador here remains "moderate".

When contacted by the Herald, a garda spokesman said "normal protocol" was in place in relation to the US security arrangements and "nothing unusual" was in place.

As tensions continue to rise in the Middle East, US President Donald Trump said yesterday that there were no American casualties in the Iranian strikes on military bases housing US troops in Iraq on Tuesday night - which were carried out in revenge for the assassination of one of Iran's most significant leaders.

Last week, the US killed Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and architect of Iran's spreading military influence in the Middle East, in a drone strike at Baghdad Airport sparking huge tension and calls for revenge against the United States and its interests.

It comes after protections were beefed up for Irish troops serving on peace-keeping missions abroad over fears of reprisal attacks following the killing of Soleimani.

Iran had vowed "severe revenge" for the killing of the senior military official.

There are currently 470 Irish soldiers serving on two separate Untied Nations (UN) missions in Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

The missions are part of the UNIFIL and UNDOF assignments respectively, whose chiefs have ordered an increase in force protection following a threat assessment.

Over the weekend, military authorities were put on alert of an increased threat to Irish troops from militant group Hezbollah who may carry out attacks in revenge for the killing of Soleimani.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has also advised all Irish citizens currently in Iraq to leave the country immediately due to terrorist attack risks.

"We advise against all travel to Iraq, because of the extremely dangerous security situation and very high threat of terrorist attacks," a travel notice from the Department says.

"If you're currently in Iraq, we advise you to leave immediately."

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