U.S. Orders Families of Military Personnel Out of Southern Turkey

Families of State Department employees also leaving.



The United States has ordered the families of military personnel station in southern Turkey to leave the country, according to a statement posted on the U.S. European Command's blog. Family members of State Department employees in southern Turkey will also be departing.

"The decision to move our families and civilians was made in consultation with the Government of Turkey, our State Department, and our Secretary of Defense," General Philip Breedlove, the commander of the European Command is quoted by the blog as saying. "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 order applies to Americans in Adana, which includes the Incirlik Air Base from which sorties against the Islamic State (ISIS) are launched, as well as Ismir, and Mugla. Families of American personnel in Ankara and Istanbul, the site of at least four terrorist attacks since last October, are not yet affected.

The State Department issued a travel warning for Turkey earlier this month, which cautioned about "increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey" and advised Americans to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, which is adjacent to Syria, all together.

Turkey continued its counterterrorism campaign against Kurdish separatist groups last week, after the most recent bombing in Ankara, for which a splinter group of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) took responsibility.

Whether the Obama administration describes the order as a victory in the struggle against ISIS remains to be seen. Secretary of State John Kerry last week suggested the ISIS attack in Brussels and the shift by the terror group to "soft targets" meant ISIS was losing on its home turf in the Middle East, an argument parroted by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who insisted the Taliban bombing of a park on Easter Sunday meant counterterrorism efforts aimed at radical Islamist groups in that country were successful.