Home » Urgent warning for UK tourists not to travel to holiday hotspot

Urgent warning for UK tourists not to travel to holiday hotspot

Members of Şırnak province’s Yazidi minority celebrating the Yazidi New Year last month (Picture: Mustafa Kilic /Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Foreign Office has warned Britons to avoid travelling in parts of Turkey due to a ‘heightened risk of terrorism’.

It already advises against all travel within 6km of Turkey’s border with Syria.

Now the government has also issued an urgent warning against all but essential travel to Şırnak city or nearby Hakkâri province.

Both are in the southeast of Turkey where, in addition to Ankara and Istanbul, ‘most terrorist attacks have occurred’, the Foreign Office (FCDO) website states.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged to ‘protect our country from the ring of fire through a security corridor across our borders’, during a speech in Şırnak this March, Daily Sabah reported.

President Erdoğan spoke to a crowd of 25,000 in Şırnak city in March as he celebrated victory in last year’s elections (Picture: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Said to be home of Noah’s tomb, Şırnak is packed with archaeological and religious sites, including a castle and a partially ruined red madrasah.

It also has mountains, rivers and canyons that makes it of interest to visiting tourists, Hürriyet Daily News said.

But its proximity to the Syrian border can also make it dangerous.

Historically the threat came from the PKK, a militant group fighting for independence of the Kurdish people.

It has carried out bombings and massacres within Turkey since the 1980s, and has found itself fighting Turkish forces in Syria since Turkey’s invasions of Kurdish-controlled regions there in 2016 and 2019.

There have been car bombings, fighting and curfews in Şırnakprovince as recently as 2016 when the Turkish army launched a counter-terrorism operation (Picture: Ilyas Akengin/AFP via Getty Images)

The FCDO said: ‘Fighting in Syria continues in areas close to the Turkish border and there remains a heightened risk of terrorism in the region.’

Although PKK terrorism in Şırnak and Hakkâri has largely died down, ISIS and Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria continue posing a threat.

ISIS has ‘previously targeted border crossings and nearby locations on the Syrian side of the border’ and has ‘the capacity to carry out attacks in neighbouring countries’, the FCDO website says.

Sites visited by foreigners – including airports, places of worship and large public gatherings like religious events and public holidays – are on the list of potential targets.

The FCDO said: ‘If you’re undertaking essential travel to Şırnak city or Hakkâri Province, take extreme care.’

Elsewhere, visitors face road closures in the southern Hatay Province when travelling routes leading to the Syrian border.

And the biblical resting place of Noah’s Ark, Mount Ararat in the eastern Ağrı Province, is a special military zone that requires a fee and permit to enter.

The FCDO said: ‘If visiting with a travel agent or tour group, confirm with them whether you need an individual permit.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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