US encourages citizens to leave Turkey

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WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday encouraged the families of troops and diplomats stationed in southern Turkey to leave the country as it ramps up efforts in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Officials said the move affects about 900 family members of personnel stationed on Incirlik Air Base, as well as relatives of US consulate workers in the nearby city of Adana.

The Pentagon and State Department announcement comes days after Turkish warplanes for the first time joined raids by the US-led coalition against Islamic State positions in Syria.

Turkey had made a preliminary step toward joining the counter-offensive by allowing US planes to use Incirlik to attack IS.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the voluntary evacuations were not the result of any specific new incidents.

“This is being done out of an abundance of caution, and obviously things have changed somewhat at Incirlik in terms of our operations,” Cook told reporters.

“This is an active air base that’s carrying out operations, and we are just being abundantly safe here.”

Family members are not required to leave, but those who choose to fly home will be reimbursed for their travel. The authorization doesn’t extend to families elsewhere in the country.

The US consulate in Adana will continue to operate normally, the State Department said. Agencies

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