WASHINGTON (AP) - Officials say three planeloads of Americans are being evacuated from a major Iraqi air base in Sunni territory north of Baghdad to escape potential threats from a fast-moving insurgency. <br />
A current U.S. official and a former senior Obama administration official say that means the American training mission at the air field in Balad has been grounded indefinitely. <br />
Twelve U.S. personnel who were stationed at Balad were the first to be evacuated. Several hundred American contractors are still waiting to leave. <br />
They have been training Iraqi forces to use fighter jets and surveillance drones. <br />
Other U.S. contractors at a tank training ground in the city of Taji (TAH'-jee) is still ongoing for now. <br />
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they refused to be named in discussing the sensitive situation.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
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