By Jack Phillips
The U.S. State Department on Thursday issued another “worldwide caution” alert for American citizens as about 50 percent of countries worldwide are currently deemed to have a heightened risk for travelers.
As of Friday, the agency lists 21 countries as Level 4, meaning “do not travel.” Another 20 are listed as Level 3, or “reconsider travel,” while 70 others were marked as Level 2, or “exercise increased caution.”
The “worldwide caution” alert was issued for Americans traveling internationally or overseas. “Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” the bulletin said.
Countries With Level 4 Alerts
The countries with Level 4 alerts include Haiti, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Belarus, Venezuela, Burma, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Israel’s Gaza and West Bank, Somalia, Mali, Libya, the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Sudan, South Sudan, and Niger.
The State Department last month issued the Level 4 advisories for Lebanon and Israel’s West Bank and Gaza due to the ongoing conflict with Hamas. It came after Hamas attacked multiple areas in Israel earlier this month, killing hundreds of civilians and leading to a significant Israeli bombing campaign.
Meanwhile, renewed warnings were issued for Lebanon on Nov. 5 by the U.S. embassy there, urging citizens to leave as soon as possible.
“The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens in Lebanon leave now while commercial flights remain available due to the unpredictable security situation,” the State Department wrote to X, formerly known as Twitter, over the past weekend.
The agency on Saturday also suggested that Americans still in Lebanon need to “have a plan of action for crisis situations that does not rely on U.S. government assistance,” before it added: “U.S. military-assisted evacuations of civilians from a foreign country are rare.”
“There is no guarantee the U.S. government will evacuate private U.S. citizens and their family members in a crisis situation,” the department said.
Outside of the Middle East, the government has warned Americans not to travel to certain states in Mexico, including Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Guerrero, largely because of crime and kidnappings. They are currently listed as Level 4 under the advisory system.
Haiti also is listed as Level 4 due to kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure as the situation in the country continues to deteriorate following the assassination of its president in mid-2021.
Notably, China is listed as Level 3, advising Americans to “reconsider travel to Mainland China” due to the Chinese Communist Party’s “arbitrary enforcement of local laws, including in relation to exit bans, and the risk of wrongful detentions.”
This week, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey issued a security alert due to recent protests and attacks targeting U.S. businesses in the country amid the Israel war. Turkey is listed as Level 2 under the State Department system, although Americans are not advised to travel to areas near the Syrian border.
“Demonstrations critical of U.S. foreign policy are expected to continue alongside calls for boycotts of U.S. businesses,” the embassy said Nov. 8 in a bulletin. “Large gatherings may result in enhanced police presence, road closures, and traffic disruptions.”
U.S. citizens in Turkey are advised to “keep a low profile,” avoid protests, avoid crowds, monitor local media for updates, and be aware of their surroundings, according to the bulletin.
Since early October, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has mobilized a considerable amount of troops, warships, and other military assets to the Middle East. Airstrikes have also been launched to target several militia groups in Syria, U.S. officials have confirmed in recent days.
In a strike on Wednesday, two U.S. F-15 fighter jets dropped multiple bombs on a weapons storage facility near Maysulun in Deir el-Zour, Syria, that was known to be used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, U.S. officials said.
“The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement this week.
This is the second time in less than two weeks that the United States has bombed facilities used by the groups, many operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which U.S. officials say have carried out at least 40 such attacks since Oct. 17.
According to the Pentagon, a total of 45 personnel have been injured and all of those were in attacks on Oct. 17 and 18. Of those, 32 were at al-Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria, with a mix of minor injuries and traumatic brain injuries, and 13 were at al-Asad air base in western Iraq, with four cases of traumatic brain injury and nine of minor injury. One person was injured at Irbil Air Base in Iraq.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.