US officials have criticized the Turkish government over violence outside its ambassador's residence in Washington. Video shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan observing the clashes from a distance.
The violence broke out after Erdogan returned to the embassy after meeting with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday. Erdogan's security staff moved in to break up an anti-government protest after police refused to make the demonstrators leave a park across the street. Nine people were hurt.
On Wednesday, the US State Department said "violence is never an appropriate response to free speech." (MORE)
Turkey's official Anadolu news agency labeled the protesters Kurdish "supporters of terror." It said they chanted anti-Erdogan slogans, and that Erdogan's team moved in to disperse them because "police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene."
The Trump administration faced growing calls Thursday for the forceful response to violence by Turkish presidential guards on American soil.
The unseemly incident added to U.S.-Turkish tensions that are being compounded by a growing spat over U.S. war strategy against the ISIS group in Syria.
The United States said it summoned Turkey's ambassador to the State Department, where the No. 2-ranked U.S. diplomat raised concerns about the security detail for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington, after they were captured on video violently breaking up a protest. U.S. lawmakers demanded stronger action. The government should "throw their ambassador the hell out" of the country, Republican Sen. John McCain said.
The calls came as the administration conceded 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 U.S. capital on Tuesday. While officials vowed an investigation, the guards are already safely back in Turkey with Erdogan, dampening any prospects for holding them accountable.
Local police and lawmakers initially speculated that diplomatic immunity prevented the U.S. from holding the men. A U.S. official said Thursday that wasn't the case. Instead, Erdogan's guards were released under a globally recognized custom under which nations don't arrest or detain visiting heads of state and members of their delegations, said the official, who wasn't authorized to comment publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.
Turkey's embassy blamed the violence on demonstrators, saying they aggressively provoked Turkish-American citizens gathered to see Erdogan.
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