Video has surfaced of an attack yesterday in Istanbul in which Turkish protesters assaulted United States Navy soldiers, shouting “Yankee go home!” and pelting them with dye.
In the video, widely distributed on the internet (the copy below is from the Associated Press), a Turkish nationalist approaches a group of people who they believed to be American soldiers. He begins to explain his grievances to them: “You declare that you are member of US army, and now, because we define you as murderers, as killers, we want you to get out of our land.” As the one man speaks, the others begin throwing unidentified objects at the young soldiers, who appear unarmed and out of uniform. The attack then becomes disturbingly physical as the mob grows and begins to chant “Yankee go home!”
Hurriyet Daily News, a Turkish outlet, explains that the attack occurred in a typically peaceful, touristic area of Istanbul, in front of the USS Ross, which is currently docked in Istanbul due to NATO exercises. The soldiers had apparently just returned from NATO exercises, and were confirmed to be with NATO but not necessarily Americans until the US Department of State confirmed that they were, in fact, members of the US Navy.
Hurriyet also confirms the nature of the attack, which is only partially visible in the video. The attackers pelted the sailors with red dye and pulled sacks over the heads of the sailors, in addition to brandishing Turkish flags at them.
Reuters reports that the use of sacks over the heads of the soldiers is “an apparent reference to an incident in Iraq in July 2003, when U.S. forces detained a Turkish special forces unit, leading its members away for interrogation with hoods over their heads.”
The United States Embassy in Turkey, Reuters also reports, delivered a statement on Twitter, in which the office said: “(We) have no doubt the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality.”
The Pentagon, meanwhile, reacted by assuring reporters yesterday that the incident would be investigated and those responsible would be held accountable. “We are working closely with Turkish authorities to have this investigated and to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” said spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren; “These attackers bring great discredit upon the Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality which I think is well known.”
The attackers are believed to be members of the Turkey Youth Union, a nationalist group.