As fears of World War 3 increase following an airstrike by the US which killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, more Britons are becoming concerned with safety while travelling to holiday hotspots located in and near the Middle East – one of them being the popular holiday destination Turkey.
The country welcomes around 2.8million British tourists per year, with many visiting in January and February.
In response to these rising concerns, the FCO has today issued an updated travel warning for Britons who are holidaying in surrounding areas, including Turkey.
The FCO statement, which has been published on their website, states: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to areas within 10 km of the border with Syria, except the city of Kilis (see below).
“The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:
• all other areas of Sirnak, Kilis (including Kilis city) and Hatay provinces
• the provinces of Diyarbakir, Tunceli and Hakkari.”
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What sparked World War 3 concerns?
Concerns around the possibility of a world war began after US military launched a drone attack on a group of Iranian militants.
Among those targeted was Iranian military leader Major General Qassem Soleiman.
Major General Soleimani’s vehicle was hit in the drone attack and he was killed.
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Following the news, the White House published a statement saying the airstrike was a “decisive defensive action” conducted “at the direction of the president”.
The attack came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US after a New Year’s Eve attack by Iran-backed forces on the US Embassy in Baghdad.
Since the attacks, protests have broken out in Iraq and Iran, with reports stating that crowds have been heard chanting: “Death to America.”
“Turkey is conducting a military operation in north-eastern Syria,” the FCO adds.
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“This has led to heightened tensions in border regions, including cross-border rocket and mortar attacks into Turkey, close to the border.
“If you’re in provinces bordering Syria, you should remain extremely vigilant and keep up to date with developments via local media and this travel advice.”
While the east of Turkey shares a border with Iran, most Britons visit the north of Turkey, travelling to Antalya, Istanbul, Bodrum and other areas, where major incidents haven’t occurred so far.
What should I do if I have a holiday planned to Turkey?
Travellers heading to Turkey are advised to stay up to date on current news and follow the advice published on the FCO’s website.
In addition, holidaymakers travelling to the country should consider taking out travel insurance – some of which include a “terrorism” add on.
“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey. Terrorist groups, including Kurdish groups, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) and far left organisations, continue to plan and carry out attacks,” says the FCO.
“Most attacks have taken place in the south-east of the country, and in Ankara and Istanbul. While there is a potential that citizens from western countries may be targets or caught up in attacks, particularly in the major cities, attacks are most likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations.”
They add that British travellers should be vigilant, follow the advice of local security authorities, monitor media reports and keep up to date with the FCO’s travel advice.