US State Department upgrades travel warning to Turkey due to “terrorism and arbitrary detentions”

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The US State Department upgraded its warning on travel to Turkey on Wednesday.

“Reconsider travel to Turkey due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution when traveling to Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory,” the State Department warned from their website.

Although Turkey, like most countries, is on a Travel Advisory Level 3 due to COVID-19, there was a special warning for Sirnak and Hakari provinces.

“Do not travel to: Sirnak province, Hakkari province, and any area within six miles (ten kilometers) of the Syrian border due to terrorism. (Level 4),” the State Department warned.

Level 4 is the highest warning and is a “do not travel” demand.

The State Department warns that terrorist attacks can occur anywhere and with no warning, including the specific targeting of tourist locations.

“Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Turkey. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas,” the State Department warned, adding that “security forces have detained tens of thousands of individuals, including U.S. citizens, for alleged affiliations with terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated.”

“U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey. Participation in demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey, as well as criticism of the government (including on social media) can result in arrest,” the statement continued.

The State Department would then give Level 4 Warnings to Sirnak and Hakkari province, where a strong Kurdish resistance is being made against the Turkish military.

“Do not travel to Sirnak province, Hakkari province, or any area within six miles (ten kilometers) of the Turkey/Syria border due to the continued threat of attacks by terrorist groups, armed conflict, and civil unrest. Terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, ambushes, car bomb detonations, and improvised explosive devices, as well as shootings, and illegal roadblocks leading to violence have occurred in these areas. U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling to these provinces and to any area within six miles (ten kilometers) of the Turkey/Syria border without prior approval,” the State Department concluded.