Terror threats in southern Turkey forced the State Department and Pentagon to order families of U.S. diplomats and military personnel to immediately leave the region.
American staffers at the U.S. consulate in Adana, the Incirlik air base, and the cities of Ismir and Mugla started an “ordered departure” on Tuesday due to the “increased threats from terrorist groups” in the country, the Associated Press reported.
“This will move very quickly,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters in Washington, D.C.
European Command released a statement on the decision, 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.”
Tuesday’s order is expected to dislodge roughly 680 family members in the region, although relocation costs will be reimbursed by the government, AP reported. Approximately 100 families based in Istanbul and Ankara will not be required to relocate.
Turkey’s last big terror attack came in January when a suicide bomber detonated near Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia on Jan. 12. Authorities examined body parts and concluded the terrorist, a member of ISIS, was a Syrian born in 1988.
“Until we wipe out Daesh, Turkey will continue its fight at home and with coalition forces,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said after the blast, which killed 10 people, including German tourists.
A Kurdish member of the Turkish parliament said in February that a “virtual civil war in seven different provinces of southern Turkey” was also contributing to the nation’s instability, Joseph Farah’s G2Bulletin reported.
Osman Baydemir said at a round table event at the Washington Kurdish Institute that Turkey’s rule of law was being obliterated by President Recep Tayyup Erdogan’s “war” on Kurds.
“Erdogan thinks that anybody who appeals for the rights of the Kurds is a traitor,” Baydemir said, “and whoever requests rights for the Kurdish people are terrorists, they’re traitors of the motherland.”
Baydemir claimed Turkish authorities were jailing journalists for reporting on violations of human rights, academics were losing jobs, curfews were being imposed, and public services were regularly interrupted.