(Washington, D.C.) — American and Turkish authorities will investigate the attack on three United States sailors in Istanbul, allegedly by Turkish nationalists, a Pentagon spokesman asserted.
Army Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman, told Pentagon reporters that the Department of Defense (DoD) condemns the attack by individuals who have been described as Turkish nationalist youth.
“We find it ugly and disturbing and we condemn that attack, executed by what appeared to be thugs on the street,” Warren said. “We are working closely with Turkish authorities to have this investigated and to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. These attackers bring great discredit upon the Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality which I think is well known.”
“We enjoy a strong relationship with our NATO ally Turkey,” he added. “We’re confident the Turks will rapidly and effectively investigate [the incident].”
It is unclear what consequences, if any, the assailants will face for their actions.
Warren said the victims are now back aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Ross following the cancellation of their shore leave.
The Pentagon spokesman added that the ship is scheduled to end its port visit to Istanbul in the “very near future.”
According to a statement from U.S. Navy, the attackers are allegedly part of the Youth Union of Turkey, which has been described as an ultra-nationalist group that opposes Turkey’s membership in NATO.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which has also condemned the attack, warned against anti-American sentiment emanating from the youth union.
On October 28, the embassy urged “U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Turkey to be alert to the potential for violence” stemming from protests by the Youth Union of Turkey, which the embassy warned, “has expressed anti-American sentiments in the past.”
The attackers tried to force white sacks onto the sailors, who were in civilian attire and chased them shouting “Yankee Go Home” and “Down With U.S. Imperialism,” according to a video of the incident.
The sailors did not sustain any injuries, the Navy said in the statement.