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US Sailors Attacked in Istanbul

by Matthew Hilburn November 12, 2014

Three U.S. sailors were assaulted Wednesday on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, by a group of what the Pentagon is calling "thugs."

A Youtube video of the attack, appears to show young Turkish men shouting "Yankee, go home!" while throwing paint and shoving the sailors.

At one point, an attacker is seen placing a plastic bag over the head of a sailor.

One of the Turkish men called the sailors "murderers," adding "we want you to leave our land."

The sailors were able to make it back to their ship uninjured, the Navy said.

The attackers are thought to be members of the right wing Turkey Youth Union (TGB).

"We condemn that attack, executed by what appears to be thugs on the street," said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren. "We're working closely with Turkish authorities to have this investigated and to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. These attackers bring great discredit upon the Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality."

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey called the attacks "appalling" in a series of tweets.

​​The sailors were from the destroyer USS Ross, which was in Istanbul after participating in NATO exercises in the Black Sea, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy.

"We have enjoyed a strong relationship with Turkey for many years," according to a Navy statement. "As NATO allies, we share common interests, and this incident will not diminish that strong relationship. Turkish ports have long been very popular destinations for U.S. Navy ships, and our sailors have enjoyed the warm hospitality that has traditionally been extended."

In 2003, U.S.- Turkish relations were rattled by an incident in which U.S. forces placed bags of the heads of Turkish special forces in northern Iraq.

The USS Ross is expected to leave Turkey Thursday.

​​VOA's Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report.

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