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The State Department closed 20 US embassies and consulates in the Mideast, North Africa, and South Asia starting on Monday local times, citing the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from the Arabian Peninsula, according to a travel alert. They will remain closed through Aug. 10, states the alert. The State Department also issued a separate warning to US citizens of the potential danger of traveling in those regions; that alert remains in effect through the end of the month. "Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. US citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure," states the travel warning. "There is a significant threat stream" that the US government is reacting to, said Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, in an interview with ABC News. He said the threat appears to be "more specific" than past threats. "The intent is to attack Western, not just US interests," said Dempsey. Britain, France, and Germany also announced plans to close their embassies in Yemen for at least several days, reported Al Jazeera.