Iraqi security forces believe that the three Americans recently kidnapped in Baghdad were taken by Iran-backed Shiite militias.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Iraqi police were engaged in a search effort Monday for the Americans, flying helicopters over the southern Dora neighborhood of the Iraqi capital where authorities say the Americans were abducted. Police had also set up checkpoints in the area.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad confirmed earlier that “several” Americans were reported missing in the city. The State Department has also said that it was aware of the reports and working with Iraqi authorities to locate the missing individuals.
American officials have not offered details on the Americans nor on the circumstances surrounding their disappearance. According to Iraqi officials, the three individuals were kidnapped in the Dora neighborhood, which is controlled by Shiite militias, including some backed by Iran that the U.S. government designates as terrorist groups.
The abductors were reportedly wearing military uniforms when they took the three Americans.
Multiple reports have indicated that the Americans were contractors. An unnamed Iraqi military official told the Journal that two of the abducted Americans were employed by a U.S. defense contractor, General Dynamics, which offers training to Iraqi special forces.
The official identified those individuals as Egyptian-American Amro Mohammed and Iraqi-American Wael al-Mahdawy. An Iraqi police official further identified the third individual as Iraqi-American Russel Furat, a woman.
The report of the abductions comes just as international sanctions are lifted on Iran with the implementation of the nuclear deal, releasing $100 billion to the country.