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U.S. Tells Families of Istanbul Consulate Employees to Leave Turkey

RIZE, TURKEY - OCTOBER 25: A large flag of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen hanging over a main street on October 25, 2016 in Rize Turkey. Although born in Kasimpasa, Istanbul, President Erdogan's family was originally from Rize a conservative town on the Black Sea. His family returned to Rize when Erdogan was very young staying until he was 13, before returning to Istanbul. Since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 which saw 240 people killed including 173 civilians, Turkish authorities initiated a state of emergency, leading to an unprecedented crackdown on individuals and organizations with links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his organization blamed for instigating the uprising. The purge, targeting teachers, journalists, soldiers, judges, academics, police, military leaders, schools and universities has so far seen approximately 100,000 people dismissed, 70,000 detained, 32,000 arrested, 130 media outlets closed and some 15 universities shuttered. The failed coup and subsequent purge only appears to have further bolstered the president's popularity and increased nationalism across the country with July 15th having been marked as a new national holiday. Turkish flags, already prominently displaying all over have increased in numbers, as well as posters of those killed fighting the coup plotters appearing in train stations and public squares. The Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, which saw heavy fighting during the coup has been renamed the '15th July Martyr's Bridge'. These changes, follow a year of instability in the country with constant terrorist attacks, an economic downturn, plummeting tourism, and a refugee crisis, all contributing to Turkish society undergoing its most dramatic restructuring in decades. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath—Getty Images A large flag of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen hanging in Rize, Turkey, on Oct. 25, 2016.

Over security concerns

The U.S. government has ordered family members of its Istanbul consulate workers to leave Turkey over security concerns.

A travel warning issued by the State Department on Saturday says the decision is based on security information that indicates extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in Istanbul.

The Consulate General remains open and fully staffed and the order applies only to the post in Istanbul, not others in Turkey.

The warning is an update to one issued last week of increased threats from terrorist groups in Turkey. U.S. citizens were told to avoid travel to the southeast part of the country and to consider travel risks.

According to the State Department, international and indigenous terrorist organizations in Turkey are targeting U.S. and other foreign tourists.


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