Special to WorldTribune.com
The United States has ordered dependents of U.S. personnel to leave southern Turkey due to what officials termed threats from Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and other elements.
The orders cover the Adana consulate, U.S. military dependents in Incirlik, Ismir and Mugla as well as families of U.S. government civilians at Ismir and Mugla. The State Department also restricted official travel to the area, which it characterized as “mission critical.”
According to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the decision to order families to leave arose after the assessment of security threats in Turkey.
The U.S. decision was made a day after Israel issued a new travel advisory for Turkey, warning its citizens to leave the country as soon as possible and to avoid any traveling there.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the move was made “out of an abundance of caution” for the safety of the families in the region. He said he was not aware of a deadline for the families to leave, but said “this will move very quickly.”
Cook said that the order does not affect about 100 family members who are based in Istanbul and Ankara.
The U.S. military’s European Command said the step “allows for the deliberate, safe return of family members from these areas due to continued security concerns in the region.”
“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,” the European Command said in a statement.
Turkey decided last year to allow the U.S.-led coalition to conduct airstrikes from the Incirlik base. The base includes strike aircraft, drones and refueling planes.
NATO’s Allied Land Command is based at Ismir and there is a Turkish base at Mugla where some U.S. military personnel go for training and other missions.