Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Officials blame Erdogan security forces for 'brutal attack' on Washington protesters

Sen. John McCain said Thursday that Turkey's ambassador to the United States should be removed after a clash between Turkish security and protesters in Washington D.C. this week.

Turkey will not participate in an offensive on Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold in Syria, because the US-led coalition will include Kurdish militia fighters, who Turkey considers terrorists, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Erdogan was in Washington, DC to meet with President Donald Trump (pictured together on Tuesday), who praised him as a loyal ally in the battle against Islamic extremism.

According to police, 11 people were injured Tuesday, including a police officer.

Police in Washington broke up the melee, arrested two men and are pursuing charges against several others they are trying to identify with the help of the State Department and the Secret Service.

The office of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released a statement Thursday afternoon condemning the violence and used the incident to swipe at Trump: "The unprovoked, vicious attack on peaceful protestors by Turkish security agents was appalling and a graphic reminder of how political dissent in Turkey is routinely crushed with impunity".

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the agency is "concerned by the violent incidents" and "violence is never an appropriate response to free speech". "We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms".

The Turkish embassy claimed that the protesters were "affiliated with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party)" - a banned separatist group in Turkey - and had assembled without permission.

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Violence erupted when Turkish security officials and counter-protesters clashed with demonstrators near the ambassador's residence, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stayed after meetings with President Trump at the White House. After police had managed to separate the two sides, Erdogan's bodyguards came to the scene.

However, the State Department did say that the investigation will "hold the responsible individuals accountable".

He added that authorities had arrested a NY man and charged him with aggravated assault, while a Fairfax, Va., man was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer.

In video captured by the Voice of America, a handful of Erdogan's supporters and his security detail rushed the demonstrators and started hitting them.

"After all, they violated American laws in the United States of America, so you can not have that happen in the United States of America".

A group of Republican lawmakers went a step further, calling the episode an "affront to the United States" and calling for Turkey to apologize.

Turkey called on Thursday for the removal of the USA diplomat coordinating the worldwide coalition fighting the Daesh terror group, accusing him of backing Syrian Kurdish militias.

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