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US Embassy in Turkey warns about potential terrorist threats, kidnappings of Americans in Istanbul

US Embassy in Turkey warns about potential terrorist threats, kidnappings of Americans in Istanbul
© AFP/NDN

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey on Friday announced it had received "credible" reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against Americans throughout Turkey, including against the U.S. Consulate General. 

"The U.S. Mission in Turkey has received credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in Istanbul, including against the U.S. Consulate General, as well as potentially other locations in Turkey," an alert from the State Department said. 

The alert did not specify any terrorist organizations that may have been responsible for the reported attacks. 

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The alert advised U.S. citizens in Turkey “to exercise heightened caution in locations where Americans or foreigners may gather, including large office buildings or shopping malls.”

In response to a request for comment from The Hill, a State Department spokesperson said that the alert was given in response to ongoing analysis on security conditions in the country. 

While the spokesperson did not provide any additional details on Friday's alert, the source explained that the agency issues alerts to keep Americans abroad safe and update them with information on new events and potential threats. 

"We are grateful for the support of the Turkish government in ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens living in Turkey as well as Turkish citizens who visit our Embassy and Consulates," the spokesperson added. 

The relationship between the U.S. and Turkey has grown increasingly tense in recent weeks following U.S. rebukes of Turkey’s weapons testing and the country’s involvement in ongoing conflicts in the region. 

Armenia has pushed the U.S. to sanction Turkey over its support for Azerbaijan in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh border dispute. 

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The U.S., along with France and Russia, is a co-chair of the Minsk Group that has for nearly 30 years tried to mediate a negotiated solution to conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested territory. 

Azerbaijan’s minister of foreign affairs, Jeyhun Bayramov, is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, with Armenia’s ambassador to the U.S. previously telling The Hill that preparations were being made for Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan’s visit to Washington. 

Last week, the Pentagon criticized Turkey over reports that the NATO member tested its Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which the U.S. said “risks serious consequences” for the allies’ relationship.

Turkey in the summer of 2019 accepted the S-400 anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system from Russia, which the U.S. fears could be used to obtain sensitive information from F-35 aircraft technology. 

Ankara went ahead with the deal despite warnings from Washington that the sale would mean a removal from the United States' F-35 program. 

“We have been clear: an operational S-400 system is not consistent with Turkey’s commitments as a U.S. and NATO Ally,” top Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement last week. 

“We object to Turkey’s purchase of the system and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is bringing it into operation. It should not be activated. Doing so risks serious consequences for our security relationship," he continued.  

Updated 12:16 p.m.