World

After Istanbul Airport Blast, US to Classify Turkey as ‘Unaccompanied Tour’

A U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III large transport aircraft flies over a minaret after taking off from Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, in this August 12, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/Files

A US Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III large transport aircraft flies over a minaret after taking off from Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey. Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer/Files

Berlin: The US is moving toward permanently banning families from accompanying US military and civilian personnel in Turkey, reflecting worsening security conditions there, two US defence sources said on Wednesday, June 29.

The Obama administration in March ordered the families of US military and diplomatic personnel to leave Incirlik air base, which has been used heavily in the fight against ISIS militants, and other parts of southern Turkey. At the time, it said the move was not permanent.

The move affected about 670 dependents of US military personnel in southern Turkey, while 100 others in Istanbul and Ankara were allowed to stay.

Now, military officials plan to designate deployments by all US 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 the June 28 suicide bomb attacks at Istanbul’s main airport, which killed at least 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 change, which must still be finalised by the Defence Department, would mean that US military deployments to Turkey would be reduced to one year from two and troops would not be allowed to bring their families.

The US military has about 2,200 service members and civilian employees in Turkey, about 1,500 of whom are posted to Incirlik base.

The change would not apply to US personnel who are part of a ‘chief of mission’ role or security cooperation team, the sources said.

The 100 dependents of US 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 June 28, warned US citizens of increased threats from militant groups throughout Turkey and urged them to avoid travelling to the southeastern part of the country. It also extended the temporary departure orders for families of US personnel working in Adana and Izmir province through July 26.

(Reuters)