WASHINGTON (TIP): Top US weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp on June 12 said it was evacuating about two dozen employees from northern Iraq due to security concerns, and the US state department said other companies were relocating their workers as well. “We can confirm that US citizens, under contract to the Government of Iraq, in support of the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program in Iraq, are being temporarily relocated by their companies due to security concerns in the area,” state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. She declined to say how many contractors were being relocated and their location, but said the US embassy and consulates were still operating normally.
“The US embassy and consulates in Iraq remain open and continue to operate on a normal status,” Psaki said. Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein said about 25 Lockheed employees were being evacuated from the Balad area in northern Iraq as part of a larger effort to ensure their safety given growing violence in the region. He said the employees were in Iraq working with the Iraqi air force as it prepared for the arrival of the first of 36 F-16 fighter jets, which are to be ferried to Iraq later this year.