A British military commander undercut United States claims of increased activity by Tehran's proxies, telling reporters that there had been "no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria".
On Tuesday, both Iran and the USA made it clear they do not want the growing tensions to escalate to war.
Sen. Mitt Romney rejected suggestions that President Donald Trump was eyeing a war with Iran after reports that the White House was considering sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran escalates its nuclear weapons program or attacks US soldiers or interests.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Baghdad last week after US intelligence showed Iran-backed Shi'ite militias positioning rockets near bases housing US forces, according to two Iraqi security sources.
The culprits have yet to be identified, and Iran is claiming innocence. "They said if the United States were attacked on Iraqi soil, it would take action to defend itself without co-ordinating with Baghdad".
The Pentagon has also made plans to move 120,000 troops to the region if Iran attacks U.S. forces or advances their nuclear weapons program, according to a report in The New York Times on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: A partial view of the Iraqi capital Baghdad is reflected in the visor of a U.S. Army helicopter crew member as he looks out of a Chinook helicopter flying from the U.S. Embassy to Baghdad International airport on January 9, 2019.
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Iran recently threatened to resume higher enrichment in 60 days if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the level permitted by the current one between Tehran and world powers. It says no one was injured, but the hulls of at least three of the four ships were damaged.
Maj Gen Chris Ghika, an Operation Inherent Resolve deputy commander, earlier said he had not seen an increased threat from Iranian proxies. Even Gulf Arab states that openly oppose Iran, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seem cautious this week.
After Ghika's comments drew a sharp retort from the US Central Command, Britain's defense ministry said Wednesday they have "long been clear about our concerns over Iran's destabilizing behavior in the region" - while still not confirming any new imminent danger.
Germany said Wednesday its military suspended training of Iraqi soldiers due to the tensions but stressed there was no indication of any specific threat to its own troops.
Senator Bob Menendez, the senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations panel, demanded a briefing "immediately" on the threat intelligence, any plans for war and the decision to order embassy staff out of Iraq.
Bernie Sanders on Tuesday came out forcefully against the Trump administration angling the United States into another costly and unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East-this time against Iran-delivering an online address in which he warned that any military action without approval from Congress would be an "unconstitutional and illegal" breach of office.
Helicopters took off throughout the day from the vast United States embassy compound near the Tigris River in Baghdad, carrying non-emergency staff out, according to an Iraqi source and a diplomatic source inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.