On Tuesday, security guards accompanying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked protesters who had gathered outside the Turkish ambassador to the U.S.’s residence.
The protesters were mostly Kurds and Armenians, who oppose Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian presidency.
D.C. officials said nine people were injured in the incident, which took place after a couple dozen protesters congregated in front of Turkish ambassador Serdar Kılıç’s residence, some waving a flag associated with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Democratic Union (PYD), which Erdogan’s government has labeled a terrorist organization, CNN reported.
The militia associated with the PYD, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), are allies of the United States, while the Turkish government considers them a terrorist organization. Two people were arrested, one charged with assaulting a police officer, but it is unclear whether those arrested were protesters or Erdogan’s security personnel.
The State Department issued a brief statement following the brawl, citing their “concern” about the incident. When asked by Breitbart News if the agency is considering taking any action, a spokesperson said the agency is working with law enforcement but could not comment specifically because the investigation is ongoing.
“The conduct of Turkish security personnel earlier this week is deeply disturbing,” the spokesperson said. “The State Department has raised its concerns about these events at the highest levels, and a thorough investigation that will allow us to hold the responsible individuals accountable is of the upmost importance to us.”
“The U.S. Department of State is working closely with local authorities concerning this incident,” the spokesperson said. “The case is currently under investigation and we are not going to go into specifics or speculate on what may happen.”
“We are going to pursue everything that’s within our legal power to hold the folks that were responsible accountable for their actions,” D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a press conference. ”We intend to ensure there was accountability for anyone who was involved in this assault.”
Videos circulating on social media on the day of the melee appear to show Erdogan’s guards inciting the violence.
A video published by Voice of America shows men in black suits carrying Turkish flags – believed to be Erdogan’s security detail – attacking individuals holding megaphones and protest signs. The guards surrounded a middle-aged man who had been kicked to the ground and was kicked repeatedly in the face. Men who appear to be wearing D.C. police uniforms attempt to surround and stop the aggressors.
The Kurdish outlet Rudaw published an exclusive video showing the injuries of some of the protesters, including one man with a bloodied face who said: “the Turks attacked me.”
Last year, a similar incident took place during Erdogan’s visit to Washington when Erdogan guards beat Turkish journalists who were protesting for their free speech rights.