Pentagon to help military families leave Turkey amid safety concerns

Pentagon to help military families leave Turkey amid safety concerns
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The Pentagon says it will pay for the voluntary relocation of family members of U.S. personnel stationed in Turkey, out of an "abundance of caution" for their safety.

"The families of U.S. personnel posted to Consulate Adana or Incirlik Air Base would have the option to depart Turkey at government expense. Those family members who wish to remain in Turkey are free to do so at this time," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters on Thursday.

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The decision follows the beginning of U.S. airstrike operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last month out of Incirlik Air Base.

But Cook said there is no "specific new threat."

"We've been at an elevated force protection level in Turkey, at Incirlik for some time, now. This is just an extra step being taken out of an abundance of caution," he added.

"The safety and security of U.S. citizens living abroad is one of our top priorities, and we take very seriously the responsibility for ensuring the security of members of the entire official American community."

The authorization for voluntary departure would apply to about 900 people, Cook said. It is limited to the Adana area and does not apply to family members of U.S. military or civilian personnel in other cities, including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.

"We will continue to evaluate our security posture in Turkey and worldwide. And this notification was provided to family members in Turkey a short time ago," he added.