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No region safe in Iraq, U.S. warns

WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- No region in Iraq is considered safe for U.S. military and civilian personnel, the U.S. State Department announced in a travel warning.

U.S. forces are tentatively expected to leave Iraq at the end of the year under the terms spelled out in a 2008 bilateral status of forces agreement.

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The State Department notes the violence in Iraq in general is down, however, "violence and threats against U.S. citizens persist and no region should be considered safe from dangerous conditions."

The warning notes that insurgent groups remain active throughout the country. Insurgents loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr have vowed to respond if U.S. forces do not leave Iraq by the end of the year.

In the north, U.S. government officials need an escort when traveling and citizens are reminded of risks along the northern border with Turkey and the eastern border with Iran.

"The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines," the warning reads.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in December secured a second term in office following a lengthy political battle. Opposition is forming to his administration as several key ministerial posts remain unfilled more than a year after parliamentary elections.

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