US orders diplomats out of Lebanon

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to advance President Barack Obama's request for congressional authorization for military intervention in Syria, a response to last month's alleged sarin gas attack in the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to advance President Barack Obama's request for congressional authorization for military intervention in Syria, a response to last month's alleged sarin gas attack in the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department is ordering nonessential U.S. diplomats to leave Lebanon due to security concerns as the Obama administration and Congress debate military strikes on neighboring Syria.

In a new travel warning for Lebanon issued early Friday, the department said it had instructed nonessential staffers to leave Beirut and urged private American citizens to depart Lebanon.

The step had been under consideration since last week when President Barack Obama said he was contemplating military action against the Syrian government for its alleged chemical weapons attack last month that the administration said killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.

The U.S. closed 19 embassies and consulates across Africa and the Middle East last month for more than a week after a terrorist threat.


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