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. (Reuters/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Helicopters ferried U.S. staff from the American embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iran, which U.S. sources believe encouraged Sunday's attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.

The sabotage of the tankers, for which no one has claimed responsibility, and Saudi Arabia's announcement on Tuesday that armed drones hit two of its oil pumping stations have raised concerns Washington and Tehran may be inching toward conflict.

A U.S. government source said American security experts believe Iran gave its "blessing" to tanker attacks, which hit two Saudi crude oil tankers, a UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge and a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker off Fujeirah near the Strait of Hormuz.

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