A mall employe inspects stores one day after the mall was looted, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Venezuela’s largest private food supplier says massive looting and vandalism occurred at four facilities in the city of Maracaibo during nationwide power outages, complicating efforts to distribute food and drinks to people in the area. (AP Photo/Henry Chirinos)

CARACAS, Venezuela – A U.S. official says the last American diplomats in Venezuela are at the country's main airport, preparing to head home amid deteriorating ties between Washington and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because of the sensitivity of the matter. Earlier Thursday morning, a convoy was seen leaving the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted this week that the diplomats were being withdrawn because they had become a "constraint" on U.S. policy. The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the U.S. diplomats to leave.

The United States and about 50 other countries support opposition leader Juan Guaido's efforts to oust Maduro, who says he is the target of a U.S. coup plot.

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