About a dozen members of a Turkish left-wing nationalist revolutionary youth organization attacked several American soldiers in the Eminonu district in Istanbul, a popular tourist hub. The Turkiye Genclik Birligi (Turkish Youth Union/TGB) approached the sailors from the USS Ross at what appears to be some sort of ticket booth, speaking to them in English.
“Excuse me. You declare that you are member of U.S. Army. And now, because we find you as murderers — as killers — we want to … we want you to get out of our land. And we are using the right to protest you,” the leader of the group announced.
In the video, posted on what appears to be the TGB’s Facebook page, the men being addressed as Americans at first tried to ignore the protesters. When the mob began to throw dye at them, the soldiers attempted to leave the scene. Members of the TGB grabbed them and shouted, “Go home, Yankee!” and then forced a white bag over one man’s head. The soldiers eventually escaped and the protesters pursued them down the street.
The “hooding” was apparently in retaliation for an incident during the Iraq war when U.S. forces arrested a group of Turkish soldiers, placed hoods over their heads, and then held them for three days, outraging many in Turkey.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara condemned the attack in a statement released via its Twitter account.
“The video showing an assault on three visiting American sailors is appalling. While we respect the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, 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,” said the Twitter statement.
The USS Ross is docked off the coast of Eminönü for four days after returning from a NATO exercise in the Black Sea. Leave for the crew has been cancelled for the remainder of the vessel’s stay in Turkey.