The State Department warned US citizens against traveling in Lebanon and southeastern Turkey and urged Americans in the rest of Turkey ‘to be alert to the potential for violence.’

Officials did not offer specifics about the possible threats, which were revealed less than a week before the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks amid an intensifying debate over President Barack Obama's plans to strike Syria.

‘These are potential threats,’ State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters after the warnings were issued. ‘Non-emergency personnel and family members’ were ordered to leave Beirut and given permission to leave Adana, near Turkey's border with Syria, but the US missions were not closed and still offered consular services, she said.

"Given the current tensions in the region, as well as potential threats to US government facilities and personnel, we are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution to protect our employees and their families, and local employees and visitors to our facilities," Harf said in an earlier statement.

Washington says troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a poison gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus on August 21. Obama has asked the US Congress to back his plan for limited strikes in response to the chemical weapons attack.

In Lebanon, officials ordered non-emergency personnel and their family members out of the country "due to threats," the US Embassy in Beirut said in statement.

New US Ambassador In Lebanon

Meanwhile, the new US ambassador to Lebanon, David Hale, presented his credentials to President Michel Suleiman, the embassy's website said.

“Washington was focused on insulating Lebanon from any aftermath of any response to Syria's chemical attack, and preserving Lebanon's policy of disassociation from the Syria conflict," website said, quoting Hale's remarks to Suleiman.

 (Agencies)

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