Families of US personnel ordered to leave parts of Turkey amid security concerns

The Obama administration ordered the families of U.S. military, diplomatic and other government personnel to leave parts of southern Turkey on Tuesday and warned U.S. citizens against travel to the region amid mounting concerns over security.

Reuters| Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016, 23:08 PM IST

Washington: The Obama administration ordered the families of U.S. military, diplomatic and other government personnel to leave parts of southern Turkey on Tuesday and warned U.S. citizens against travel to the region amid mounting concerns over security.

The U.S. military`s European Command said it had ordered the departure of families of personnel stationed in Adana, including Incirlik air base, which is used heavily in the fight against Islamic State militants. It said families of U.S. military personnel also had been told to leave Izmir and Mugla provinces.

The decision was authorized by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, a statement from European Command said.

"We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism," General Philip M. Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command, said in the statement.

The departures do not indicate a decision to permanently end U.S. families` presence at military facilities in southern Turkey, the statement said.

The U.S. State Department said later it had ordered the departure of family members of government workers at the U.S. Consulate in Adana, and that families of U.S. government workers in Izmir and Mugla provinces were also asked to leave.

The State Department issued a statement cautioning U.S. citizens more broadly against traveling to southeastern Turkey.

It also warned of "increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey."

The U.S. moves come a day after Secretary of State John Kerry met in Washington with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss bilateral issues, including efforts to defeat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was due to visit Washington this week to attend a Nuclear Security Summit with other world leaders.
(Reporting by Washington newsroom; Editing by Bernadette Baum)