WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Obama administration ordered the families of US military and diplomatic personnel to leave parts of southern Turkey on Tuesday, March 29, and warned US citizens against travel to the region amid mounting security concerns.
The Pentagon said 670 dependents of US military personnel would be affected by the order to depart areas of southern Turkey, including Incirlik air base, which is used heavily in the fight against Islamic State militants.
The US State Department said a small number of diplomatic families would be affected but did not give numbers. The Pentagon said 100 military dependents in Ankara and Istanbul were not affected by the departure orders because of security measures in place there.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the move had been under consideration for several weeks, and was not the result of any specific threat and had nothing to do with the visit to Washington this week by top Turkish officials.
Secretary of State John Kerry met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is due to attend a Nuclear Security Summit with other world leaders later in the week. Kirby said Kerry had discussed the security announcement with Cavusoglu at their meeting on Monday.
“The decision to do this wasn’t taken lightly. It was done after careful thought and consideration, and inter-agency coordination,” Kirby told a daily briefing at the State Department.