Footage has emerged which shows that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently witnessed his bodyguards starting a brawl with pro-Kurdish protesters during his visit to Washington DC.
Nine people were hospitalised and two members of the Turkish leader’s security detail arrested in the brutal altercation with Kurds, Yazidis and Armenians protesting Mr Erdogan’s human rights record and Syria policy.
The new video obtained by Voice of America shows the driveway of the Turkish ambassador's residence, where Mr Erdogan is seated in the back of a black Mercedes, as protesters chant outside.
A member of his security detail speaks to the president before walking over to another bodyguard. That guard then walks out of the camera’s frame, and then the men in suits attack the protesters.
Mr Erdogan can be seen exiting the car shortly afterwards, surveying the scene, before heading inside.
In footage previously obtained by VoA, filmed across the road, the bodyguards can be seen suddenly rushing at the protesters.
An elderly man holding a megaphone is kicked in the face, and several women are also hit. Police officers can be seen attempting to hold some of the aggressors back, dragging them to the other side of the street.
While the US State Department said in a statement it was “concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel,” President Donald Trump is yet to comment on Tuesday’s incident.
“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 said. ”We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms.”
Both Democrat and Republican politicians condemned the violence on American soil, saying it violated the right to freedom of assembly.
The Turkish Embassy, meanwhile, said protesters had “aggressively provoked Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president,” and that the pro-Turkish elements had “responded in self-defence.”
Protester Ceres Borazan, from the Kurdish area of Turkey, wrote in a public Facebook post that the guards “attacked women, children and the elderly with reckless abandon,” and that one had threatened to kill her.
“I ran in the opposite direction from our friends and got caught by one of the security guards. He put me in a headlock to the point where he popped a blood vessel in my eye.”
President Erdogan held meetings with President Trump earlier on Tuesday.
While both leaders reiterated the strong ties between the two Nato countries and a united desire to fight terrorism, the visit took place amid strained relations thanks to the US’ decision last week to publicly fund and arm Kurdish militias in Syria fighting Isis.
Turkey views the separatist Kurdistan People’s Party (PKK) and its affiliates in Syria, the PYD, as terrorist organisations - but the US sees Kurdish militias as the most effective ground forces against the extremist organisation.
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