News / Middle East

Americans Warned About Travel to Lebanon, Turkey

A general view of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. (file photo)
A general view of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. (file photo)
VOA News
The United States has issued travel warnings to its citizens for Lebanon and Turkey due to concerns over possible violence in those countries.

The State Department also has authorized its nonessential employees to leave both nations because of potential threats against U.S. facilities.

The U.S. says the steps are being taken out of an abundance of caution. The warnings were issued as the Obama administration and U.S. Congress consider possible military strikes on Syria.

A statement recommends Americans defer travel to the southeastern part of Turkey, which borders Syria. It also says there is an increased possibility of attacks against U.S. citizens in Lebanon, where extremist groups such as Hezbollah operate.  

Non-emergency American personnel and their families were ordered to leave Lebanon's capital, Beirut, and those remaining were advised to limit travel within the country.
A spokeswoman for the State Department, Marie Harf, said the United States would continue to assess the situation and make adjustments to the security status as warranted.

"Our preference is always, of course, to have our folks on the ground and I would know also that the consular services are still happening in Adana and in Beirut, we're just drawing down some personnel. So if we have some additional decisions to make we certainly will and it's an issue that everyone here is very clearly focused on as we go forward. Our security of our people and our facilities in the region is of utmost concern to everyone here," said Harf.

Harf said she was not aware of any specific threats.

The U.S. is considering military action against Syria in retaliation for the Syrian government's suspected use of chemical weapons near Damascus. The Syrian government has threatened retaliatory action for any foreign attack on its territory.

Several other countries have warned their citizens to avoid traveling to Lebanon whose divided communities could take sides in the Syrian conflict.

The United Nations has withdrawn some of its staff from Syria. But its humanitarian agency continues to deliver aid to Syrian refugees. U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said Friday the agency is preparing contingency plans for a possible increased flow of refugees ahead of expected military strikes against Damascus.

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