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France, Netherlands issue warnings to citizens in Middle East

PARIS (Reuters) - France urged its citizens in Iran on Friday to stay away from public gatherings and the Netherlands told Dutch nationals to leave Baghdad after the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Washington had earlier told U.S. citizens to leave Iraq, after Tehran threatened retaliation for the U.S. strike that killed Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force and architect of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East.

“Three days of mourning have been declared after the death of General Soleimani. In this context, we recommend French citizens to stay away from any gatherings and to behave with prudence and discretion and abstain from taking pictures in public spaces,” France’s embassy in Tehran said on Twitter.

A U.S. air strike killed Soleimani and an Iraqi militia commander at Baghdad airport.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry told Dutch citizens to leave Baghdad “if that is possible in a safe manner.”

“Unrest and violence have increased in Baghdad, and around the airport. The situation is unpredictable,” the Dutch ministry said in a statement.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Toby Sterling and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Edmund Blair