ANKARA: The US has closed down its embassy in Turkey due to a security threat.
It was announced on embassy’s official website early on Monday.
The message on the website stated that the embassy would remain closed for public and will only offer emergency services today and further advised the US citizens present in Turkey to remain vigilant.
It further stated that services like passport renewal, reports of lost or stolen passports, reports of birth abroad, and notarial services are not considered as an emergency.
The security alert on the US embassy website also asked US nationals to stay away from crowds and keep a low profile.
The embassy is located in the Kavaklidere district of Ankara. The statement said that it would announce the reopening once it resumes the services.
US Embassy asked US citizens to avoid embassy and be mindful of security at places like tourists sites, shopping malls, and entertainment venues. It also asked them to keep notifying their friends and family of their safety and stay updated by following local media.
The US Embassy in Ankara released emergency telephone numbers for US citizens along with the US State Department Counseling helpline.
- S. Embassy, Ankara +90-312-455-5555
- State Department – Consular Affairs, 1-888-407-4747 or 1-202-501-4444
The alert did not disclose any information regarding the nature of the threat.
US embassy located in Ankara had already been hit with a suicide attack in February 2013. The attack was claimed by the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
On the other hand, tensions between the US and Turkey are rising over the US decision to provide weapons and equipment to Kurds of the Kurdish YPG militia-led opposition Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Turkey resented the move as it perceives SDF as a security threat and considers such groups as a front of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). PKK is a separatist group that has waged a decade-long insurgency against the Turkish government.
The US-Turkey relations have been going downhill for two years. The tensions began to arise in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. It was aimed to remove the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan from the office.
The Turkish president blamed a US-based Turkish cleric, Fataullah Gulen for the coup. Fathallah Gulen, a former Erdogan-ally had been residing in Pennsylvania in a self-imposed exile since 1999.
Erdogan demanded the US government to hand Gulen over to the Turkish authorities. The US refused to oblige this demand for extradition on the grounds that extradition should be justified as per international law.
The relation between the two countries deteriorated when Erdogan denied extraditing the terror suspects to the US unless the US hands over Gulen.