U.S. Warns Diplomatic Families To Leave Turkey

Family members of U.S. consular staff in Turkey should leave the country, the U.S. Department of State warned on Oct. 29.

That announcement came in response to credible threats against Americans living in Turkey, according to Al Jazeera.

"The Department of State made this decision based on security information indicating extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack US citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent," the Department wrote in an announcement.

At the same time, officials warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Turkey for any reason. A travel warning issued on Oct. 29 said Americans should avoid southeast Turkey altogether and "carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country."

"Foreign and U.S. tourists have been explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations in Turkey," the announcement said, warning that there could be terrorist attacks on tourist sites, restaurants, bridges, bus and train stations and other places where large numbers of people congregate.

The warnings follow an Aug. 20 suicide bombing in Gaziantep -- which is only 60 miles from Syria's war-ravaged city of Aleppo -- that claimed 57 lives, and a car bombing in the city of Van which wounded more than 50 people on Sept. 12.

Those attacks followed the June 28 bombing of Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, which claimed the lives of 44 people and left more than 200 others wounded, according to CNN. Investigators attributed that attack to the Islamic State and arrested dozens of alleged terrorists who were accused of planning it.

The State Department noted that Turkey has closed its borders with Syria, but warned that Turkish cities could be the targets of reprisal attempts for Turkey's role in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Al Jazeera, CNN / Photo credit: Zumrasha/Wikimedia Commons

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