Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Erdogan: Turkey will not take part in Raqqa offensive

Erdogan: Turkey will not take part in Raqqa offensive

The US State Department summoned Turkey's ambassador after bodyguards and supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan beat protesters outside the Turkish embassy earlier this week. "This is Erdogan's security detail", McCain said. "We call upon the Turkish government to apologize immediately for the involvement of any officials", said the statement.

Eleven people, including a U.S. officer were hurt in the brawl.

The calls came as the Trump administration acknowledged it had released two members of Erdogan's detail after holding them briefly after the incident, which took place outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in the US capital on Tuesday.

He said he told the United States that Turkey could not be part of the operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State due to the participation of the YPG.

"We should throw the Turkish ambassador out of the country, we should identify those people that performed these unlawful acts of beating people up and they should be charged", McCain told reporters. "This isn't Turkey. This isn't a third-world country, and this kind of thing can not go unresponded to diplomatically".

Ankara regards the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which is a USA ally in the fight against Islamic State, as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group fighting a decades-old insurgency in southeastern Turkey. We do not do this here. "It would be beneficial for this person to change", he said, accusing the diplomat of pursuing policies of the Obama administration, according to broadcaster NTV.

The White House hasn't commented on the altercation, but President Trump has been criticized for his positive comments on foreign leaders, like Erdogan, who have been criticized for their records on political freedom and human rights.

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.

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US government officials have been roundly critical of the guard's actions.

In their Oval Office meetings Tuesday, Trump did not mention Erdogan's increasingly tight grip on power in Turkey or allegations of irregular elections under his leadership.

The confrontation came after President Donald Trump welcomed Erdogan to the White House on 16 May.

In a statement, the Turkish embassy blamed the fighting on demonstrators who "began aggressively provoking" Turkish-American citizens who had assembled to greet Erdogan.

The White House defended Trump's disclosure of classified information to senior Russian officials as "wholly appropriate", as Trump tried to beat back criticism from fellow Republicans and calm global allies increasingly wary about sharing their secrets with the new president. Turkey, the United States and the European Union all consider the PKK a terrorist organisation, which further fuels Turkish resentment towards its allies.

Turkey regards the PKK as a terrorist group.

"We intend to assure that there is accountability for anyone involved in this assault", he said, adding that the police were working closely with the State Department and the Secret Service.

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