The U.S. Department of Defense and Department of State ordered families and dependents of U.S. personnel operating in southern Turkey to evacuate due to “continued security concerns in the region.”
Included in the evacuation are the dependents of those working in the U.S. consulate of Adana, the Incirlik military base located close to the Syrian border, Ismir and Mugla. The evacuation coincides with a report Sunday from Sky News warning of an “imminent” attack on Jewish schools in Turkey.
“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,” said a U.S. European Command statement.
According to the U.S. Incirlik air base website, the order “is intended to mitigate the risk to DoD elements and personnel, including family members, while ensuring the combat effectiveness of U.S. forces and our mission support to operations in Turkey. The United States and Turkey are united in our common fight against ISIL (ISIS), and Incirlik continues to play a key role in counter-ISIL operations.”
The order will effect around 670 family members and dependents, said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. Because the move is an “ordered departure,” the government pays for the costs of relocation.
When asked if the attacks in Brussels played a role, Cook told reporters the evacuation is not due to any one specific threat.
The evacuation follows the start of a major offensive against Islamic State in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, involving Iraqi and Kurdish forces supported by U.S. air power and other units. Incirlik serves as a crucial U.S. airbase in the fight against ISIS and is home to drones, fighter and refueling aircraft. The Turkish government was at first hesitant to allow combat missions to be flown out of the crucial staging area, but it allowed them last year after the fight against ISIS intensified.
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