US orders some diplomats to leave Yemen amid uncertainty, sectarian unrest

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NEW YORK — The State Department on Thursday ordered some of its diplomats and other government workers at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen to leave the country because of deteriorating security amid unrest and sectarian clashes that have left Shiite rebels in control of the capital.

"Today, the Department of State ordered a temporary reduction in the number of U.S. government personnel in Yemen," the department said in a statement. "We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution and in response to recent political developments and the changing, unpredictable security situation in Yemen."

A separate travel warning for U.S. citizens said the step was taken "due to the continued civil unrest and the potential for military escalation."

It said the embassy in Sanaa would remain open with a majority of staff remaining and that the relocation of staff would be temporary.

The rebels, known as the Hawthis, overran Sanaa over the weekend, defeating Sunni Islamist fighters. They signed a peace deal with the government on Sunday but have ignored calls for fighters to leave the city. The Hawthis, believed backed by Iran, have vowed to go after al-Qaida's branch in the country, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which the U.S. believes is a major threat to American interests.

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