No US Military or Family Members Harmed in Istanbul Bombing: Pentagon

  • Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)
    Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)
  • Turkish rescue services help a wounded person outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)
    Turkish rescue services help a wounded person outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)
  • Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey (Yazar Mertborak/Wikimedia Commons)
    Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey (Yazar Mertborak/Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. military has no immediate reports that any service member or their family members were among the casualties in the Istanbul airport terror attacks that killed at least 41 and injured an estimated 239, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

U.S. European Command, which has responsibility for Turkey, said it has full accountability for American military personnel and their families in the region, according to preliminary reports, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.

There also were no immediate reports from the State Department that any U.S. citizens were killed or injured in the Tuesday attacks at Istanbul's busy Ataturk airport by at least three terrorists wielding small arms and suicide vests.

The U.S. profile in Turkey was significantly lowered in March following the Brussels airport and Metro terror attacks when about 600 military families were evacuated from Turkey "out of an abundance of caution," Pentagon officials said at the time.

Although there has been no immediate claim of responsibility, Turkish officials said the Istanbul attacks appeared to be the work of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. President Barack Obama issued similar remarks Wednesday in Ottawa, where he was meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

After extending "my deepest condolences to the people of Turkey," Obama condemned the attacks in statements clearly attributing responsibility to ISIS.

"It's an indication of how little these vicious organizations have to offer beyond killing innocents," Obama said. "They're continually losing ground, unable to govern those areas that they have taken over. They're going to be defeated in Syria, they're going to be defeated in Iraq."

The president added, "We will not rest until we have dismantled these networks of hate that have had an impact on the entire civilized world. We stand with the people of Turkey."

Despite Obama's remarks, the U.S. military initially stopped short of blaming the Istanbul attacks on ISIS.

In a briefing to the Pentagon from Baghdad, Army Col. Chris Garver, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said the military could not immediately attribute blame to ISIS but said that the Istanbul attacks fit the image of what ISIS wants to project.

"We certainly know they want to do that," Garver said of attacks intended to cause global chaos and fear of the terror group. "We know Daesh wants to project power" beyond Iraq and Syria, he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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