The U.S. State Department updated its travel warning on Turkey on Saturday, ordering family members of consulate employees in Istanbul to leave the country, citing threats against U.S. citizens.
“The Department of State made this decision based on security information indicating extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent,” the department said in a statement.
The State Department said the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul remains open and said the order does not apply to any other U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey.
Saturday’s warning updates previous State Department advisories of “increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey.” The department advises U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeast Turkey and also advises caution on the risks of traveling anywhere in the country.
Turkey’s southeast has been in turmoil for the past several months as renewed conflict with the local Kurdish population has killed dozens of military and police service members in bombings and other attacks.
ISIS has also been responsible for a number of attacks in Turkey, having infiltrated the country via the southern border with Syria.
In an attempt to stabilize the region, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria in August that the government said was focused on driving back Islamic State forces as local militias began to strategically surround their de facto capital on Raqqa.
Syria’s Kurds however, along with their American military backers, saw the Turkish move, at least in part, as a move to limit Kurdish gains against ISIS.
Turkey views several ethnic Kurdish militias as terrorist groups and government policies have remained consistent in trying to limit their growth and influence.
JUST IN: State Department orders departure of family members of employees of US Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey – ABC pic.twitter.com/9VNXX5ZkhR
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