U.S. releases 2 Turkish bodyguards after violence

U.S. releases 2 Turkish bodyguards after violence

The incident has increased tensions between the USA and Turkish governments.

The U.S. detained and released two members of the Turkish president's delegation after they were involved in an attack on peaceful protesters outside the Turkish embassy Tuesday.

U.S. officials expressed outrage after what they described as a "brutal attack" Tuesday by Erdogan bodyguards on a small group of pro-Kurdish protesters who gathered on the USA capital's "Embassy Row" after Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House. USA lawmakers demanded stronger action.

The executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, who witnessed Tuesday's bloody attacks against protesters of the regime of visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called the violence the "very type of intolerance that has come to predominate in Turkey - and it has now been exported here".

'We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms, ' said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman. While officials vowed an investigation, the guards are already safely back in Turkey with Erdogan, dampening any prospects for holding them accountable.

The U.S.is declining to say whether the security agents were granted diplomatic immunity or under what conditions they were released.

"The weapons provided will only be used in Raqqa and its south, they will absolutely not be used against Turkey, this will not be allowed", Cavusoglu said.

The guards' release left the USA struggling to point to anything that amounts to accountability.

While President Donald Trump's invitation to Erdogan - and his lavish praise for Turkey during the visit - were widely seen as having enhanced Erdogan's stature at home, the US administration did not appear to budge on any of Erdogan's most pressing requests, including the demand not to arm the YPG.

The Turkish security officials were briefly detained at the site of the protest by US law enforcement for their role in the altercation.

"There must be consequences", Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Thursday.

"Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest", the statement read.

Trump's approval, before the visit, of plans to arm the YPG as it advances towards Islamic State's Raqqa stronghold had overshadowed talks between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, but Erdogan did not directly criticize the plan at the White House. While protesters chant across the street, Erdogan says something from inside the auto to a suited bodyguard standing outside his door.

Four of the attackers ganged up on Aziz - knocking him to the ground with punches to the head and repeatedly kicking him in the chest and head before police drove them away.

Nine people were sent to the hospital after the fighting.

USA officials told Ankara that the YPG would not constitute a threat for Turkey and that arms supplied by Washington would be used in Raqqa and in the south, not against Turkey, Cavusoglu said.

The video also suggests that Erdogan gave the orders for the assault to a bodyguard standing outside his Mercedes Benz moments before the beat-down began.

In the video Mr Erdogan can be seen watching the clash before turning around and then walking away.

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.

Erdogan said he told the United States that Turkey would not shirk from military engagement if it faced a threat, in a clear reference to the YPG.

The violent capstone to Erdogan's visit spoke to the sky-high tensions between the USA and Turkey, NATO allies that have increasingly sparred over US strategy toward defeating IS militants in Syria.



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