State Department Summons Turkish Ambassador After Bloody Brawl in DC

Erdogan's visit on Tuesday was further complicated by Turkey's calls for the United States to take steps to extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. His appearance at the Brookings Institution during the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit was marred when his security detail roughed up demonstrators and tried to eject "undesired" journalists.

Ankara regards the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which is a US 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.

"These are not just average people at this", McCain said about the bodyguards.

In a statement, the Turkey Embassy blamed the conflict on the leftist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a Marxist group in Turkey that has for decades been locked in a military conflict with Ankara.

The U.S. State Department has also expressed its official concern "in the strongest possible terms".

The U.S. announced last week that it would arm Kurdish fighters in Syria, a move Erdogan is against because he says they are linked to the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey known as the PKK.

The State Department, Secret Service and Washington, D.C. police are trying to identify the assailants.

The diplomatic incident has sparked outrage in Washington and even prompted the State Department to summon the Turkish ambassador.

"We witnessed what appeared to be a brutal attack on peaceful protesters", said Peter Newsham, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in the nation's capital.

The Turkish embassy released a statement on May 17 that contradicted USA officials and video evidence, blaming instead the demonstrators, who, it said, had been "aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president".

Erdogan made the comments Thursday while addressing Turkish businessmen in Istanbul after returning to Turkey from a Tuesday visit to the White House.

Erdogan also said that the United States had made up its mind on Raqa, which meant Turkey could not join the operation "under the current circumstances", referring to the YPG's involvement. The United States sees the Syrian Kurds as its best battlefield partner on the ground in northern Syria.

"The demonstrators began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president", the embassy said.

"The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense", the statement read. The statement said that the USA communicated its concerns to the Turkish government "in the strongest possible terms".

  • Leroy Wright