US allowing more diplomat families in Turkey to leave country
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 26, 2016
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Family members of U.S. Embassy employees in Ankara may leave Turkey under a voluntary departure authorization announced Tuesday by the U.S. State Department in the wake of the turmoil following a failed military coup.
Voluntary departure was also granted for family members of employees working at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, according to a security message dated Tuesday on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. Families have the option of returning to the States at government expense under a voluntary departure authorization.
The decision to give families the option of leaving Turkey was made after the July 15 attempted coup and the subsequent declaration by the Turkish government of a 90-day state of emergency, the State Department said in the message.
“During this period, U.S. citizens in Turkey may see an increase in police or military activities and restrictions on movement,” the State Department said.
More than 250 people were reportedly killed in the attempted coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in recent days to rally in support of Erdogan.
After the failed coup, air operations were temporarily halted at Incirlik Air Base, where U.S. and coalition warplanes have been flying missions against Islamic State targets. Family members of U.S. military personnel at Incirlik were evacuated in March.
The State Department’s voluntary departure announcement was part of an updated travel advisory warning of continuing threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey. The department says U.S. citizens should avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, particularly near the Syrian border.
Travel to Turkey for Defense Department personnel and their families continues to be off-limits.
The State Department also said it’s extending the March 29, 2016, ordered departure of family members of U.S. government personnel at the consulate in Adana and of government civilians working in Izmir province.
The Pentagon in March ordered some 700 dependents of military personnel at Incirlik Air Base and at smaller bases in Izmir and Mugla to leave the country because of concerns over the deteriorating security environment there.