U.S. sailors were attacked and had bags placed over their heads in Istanbul, Turkey. The assault of the Navy sailors was captured on video and quickly went viral. The USS Ross sailors were reportedly accosted by members of the Turkish Youth Union.
United States military officials are still reviewing the incident.
“The incident does not reflect the hospitality nor the welcome reception our ships receive in port in Turkey. U.S. Navy officials are working with the embassy and NCIS to investigate the incident. The three sailors were unharmed and are safely back aboard. They did not require medical attention,” U.S. European Command Captain Greg Hicks said during an interview with CNN.
The Turkish Youth Union members shouted, “Yankee Go Home” and “Down with U.S. imperialism” while attacking the U.S. sailors in Istanbul. The media in Turkey maintains that the attackers “did not appear” to have any ties to ISIS. Islamic State fighters have a stronghold in nearby Syria.
The United States Embassy in Ankara condemned the attack on the U.S. Navy sailors via Twitter.
“We condemn today’s attack in Istanbul, and have no doubt the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality.”
The “hood attack” of the three sailors was undertaken by approximately two dozen members of the Turkish Youth Union or Turkiye Genclik Birligi – TGB. The U.S. sailors were attacked at the Eminonu district in the popular tourist waterfront area of Istanbul.
The use of bags in the hood attack was reportedly a reference to a 2003 Iraq War incident. At that time, hoods were allegedly forced onto the heads of a group of Turkish soldiers after United States forces arrested them in northern Iraq. The alleged incident reportedly enhanced national sentiment in Turkey and was the basis for a 2006 movie about Turkish agents in Iraq, titled Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. The film was deemed a smash hit.
“We want you to get lost and we are using our right to protest,” members of the Turkish Youth Union reportedly yelled at the U.S. sailors during the hood attack in Istanbul.
One dozen union members were arrested after the incident.
The USS Ross is a guided missile destroyer that was moored at the Istanbul port after completing military exercised in the Black Sea. The men who attacked the U.S. sailors were referred to a “thugs on the street” by United States military spokesman Colonel Steven Warren.
Shore leave for the USS Ross crew was cancelled for the remainder of the ship’s stay in Istanbul. Military spokesmen have also said that the hood attack appears to be a “one-off” and will not foil the “strong relationship between America and Turkey.
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[Image via: Mirage 14]