The State Department and Pentagon have issued a departure order to family members of American military personnel and diplomats in Turkey, citing increased threats from terrorist groups.
The order, which is mandatory, applies to families of service members assigned to the Incirlik Air Base as well as the smaller military installations in Izmir and Mugla, Stars and Stripes reported. Families of civilian U.S. government employees at Izmir and Mugla have also been ordered to leave, in addition to family members of American personnel at the U.S. consulate in Adana.
The U.S. European Command said that families will begin leaving the country on Wednesday. In a statement, the command said that the move “allows for the deliberate, safe return of family members from these areas due to continued security concerns in the region.”
“We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, said Tuesday.
The order will affect an estimated 670 military dependents assigned to the bases in Incirlik, Izmir, and Mugla, nearly all of the 770 military family members who are currently in Turkey. Only those with mission-essential jobs have been permitted to stay.
The move comes as the fight against ISIS, the terror group behind attacks in Paris and Brussels, continues to intensify in the Middle East.
Incirlik, which is approximately 200 miles from the border with Syria, has played a crucial role in the fight against ISIS. The U.S. has routinely been launching air strikes against the terror group from the base.
The Air Force in September moved to authorize the voluntary departure of families of American personnel at Incirlik and the U.S. consulate in Adana. The same month, the service also halted the move of family members of military personnel to Incirlik amid violence concerns.