A group of about 20 nationalists attacked three U.S. sailors in Istanbul on Wednesday, hurling objects at them, chasing them and briefly putting a bag over one of the sailors’ heads.
In the video, one of the Turks is seen saying the Americans looked like members of the U.S. Army. The Turks claimed to be members of the Turkey Youth Union, which is opposed to working with the United States and becoming members of the European Union.
“We define you as murderers, as killers… and we want you to get out of our land,” one man says, seconds before the attack ensues.
The Navy said the sailors were assigned to the USS Ross, a destroyer, and in Turkey for a scheduled port visit. They appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s. They were able to get away without suffering injuries and are back on the Ross, Navy officials said.
“The U.S. Navy is currently working with the Turkish National Police and U.S. Embassy staff to investigate this incident,” said a statement from U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa. “The U.S. Navy will continue to coordinate with Turkish authorities to review security procedures for future ship visits.”
In a series of tweets, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey blasted the attack, calling it appalling. The vast majority of Turks are against “an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality.”
(1/4)The video showing an assault on three visiting American sailors is appalling.— U.S. Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) November 12, 2014
(2/4)While we respect the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression,— U.S. Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) November 12, 2014
(3/4) we condemn today’s attack in Istanbul, and have no doubt…— U.S. Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) November 12, 2014
(4/4)… the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality.— U.S. Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) November 12, 2014
A Navy spokesman, Lt. Timothy Hawkins, said that the Ross already was scheduled to depart Istanbul on Thursday and that the attack had no effect on operations.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a Facebook post that he is certain the vast majority of Turkish people and the Ankara government do not condone the attack.
“We understand that local law enforcement have suspects in custody,” Mabus said. “We commend this swift action and are certain that those who did this will be held accountable.”