Bombing won't affect Patriot missile mission, US military says
The first vehicles of the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery roll on to a Turkish army base in Gaziantep, Thursday.
ADANA, Turkey — The suspected suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey will not affect the U.S. Patriot missile mission, with a large troop movement still slated to take place on Saturday, according to U.S. military officials.
A battery of soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery, along with the battalion’s headquarters and truckloads of Patriot missiles, will move from Incirlik Air Base to a Turkish military base in Gaziantep as planned, said Capt. Royal Reff, a spokesman for the U.S. Patriot mission.
“Obviously, the appropriate security measures with our Turkish partners are being taken,” Reff said.
About 400 troops will be stationed at Gaziantep for up to a year as part of the NATO mission in Turkey, which aims to bolster Turkey’s air defense amid concerns of a potential missile strike from war-torn Syria.
Meanwhile, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, where security normally is very tight, additional measures are likely in light of Friday’s suicide bombing.
“It’s important we do make necessary changes as the situation dictates, but it would be inappropriate for me to talk about what those are,” said 1st Lt. David Liapis, Incirlik spokesman.
Near the base, there have been some protests in recent weeks in connection with the NATO Patriot missile defense mission, which involves 1,200 troops from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands. Command messages advising troops and family members to avoid certain areas are pretty routine, Liapis said.
At Ankara Elementary/High School, a Department of Defense Dependents School-Europe school in the city of Ankara serving the Defense Department and State Department community, students were held at the school Friday afternoon until local U.S. military authorities cleared them to leave, said Harvey Gerry, DODDS-Europe chief of staff. The buses left later than normal, Gerry said, and did not follow routine departure procedures. Parents were allowed to pick up their children at school and at the bus stop, Gerry said.
“All students were delivered home safely, with no problems or incident,” Gerry said Friday afternoon.
Located on a secure compound, the school, which is not adjacent to the embassy, serves about 200 students of multiple nationalities in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.
As for school plans on Monday, Gerry said “we’re working very closely with the local military authority to determine what the appropriate steps are.”
The blast at the embassy killed at least one security guard and injured a Turkish civilian, according to an Asociated Press report.
A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Stars and Stripes reporter Jennifer Svan contributed to this report.