The U.S. moving toward permanently banning families from accompanying U.S. military and civilian personnel in Turkey

BERLIN (Reuters) – The United States is moving toward permanently banning families from accompanying U.S. military and civilian personnel in Turkey, reflecting worsening security conditions there, two U.S. defence sources said on Wednesday.Google+

Turkish flags, with the control tower in the background, fly at half mast at Ataturk Airport. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Turkish flags, with the control tower in the background, fly at half mast at Ataturk Airport.
REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The Obama administration in March ordered the families of U.S. military and diplomatic personnel to leave Incirlik air base, which has been used heavily in the fight against Islamic State militants, and other parts of southern Turkey.

The move affected about 670 dependants of U.S. military personnel in southern Turkey, but 100 of them in Istanbul and Ankara were allowed to stay.

Now, military officials plan to designate deployments by all U.S. military and civilian personnel to Incirlik base in Adana and other sites in Turkey as “unaccompanied” tours, the sources told Reuters.

The move was under consideration before Tuesday’s Islamic State suicide bomb attacks at Istanbul airport which killed 41 people and wounded 239 others, the sources said.

“The change reflects the continued deterioration of security conditions throughout Turkey,” said one of the sources, who was not authorised to speak publicly.

The U.S. military has about 2,200 service members and civilian employees in Turkey, with about 1,500 of those posted to Incirlik base.

The change would not apply to U.S. personnel who are part of a “chief of mission” role or security cooperation team, the sources said.

The 100 dependants of U.S. personnel still in Turkey would be allowed to stay once the new rules took effect, and would depart through natural attrition, said one of the sources.

The State Department on Tuesday warned U.S. citizens of increased threats from militant groups throughout Turkey, and urged them to avoid travelling to the southeastern part of the country.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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