Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren has condemned the attack on three US Navy sailors by anti-American protesters on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey.
“We condemn that attack executed by what appear to be thugs on the street,” he said on Wednesday, calling the attack “ugly and disturbing.”
“These attackers bring great discredit upon the Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality which is well-known,” Warren added.
A video footage showed a group of political activists assaulted the sailors and slipped plastic bags over their heads on Wednesday.
The members of the Turkish Youth Union shouted “Yankee go home!” and put the bags on the sailors’ heads before they can escape.
“We define you as murderers and killers and want you to get out of our land,” one of the Turks told the sailors.
The sailors were from the missile destroyer, the USS Ross, that was on a scheduled port visit to Turkey’s largest city.
The Turkish Youth Union said in a statement on its website that the bags were placed on the sailors’ heads to protest American “imperialism” in the Middle East.
“Long live oppressed nation’s war against imperialism,” according to the statement.
The US Navy said in a statement that it is currently working with the Turkish National Police and US Embassy staff to investigate the incident.
The anti-American sentiment in Turkey, a US ally, is not common, but some political groups in Turkey say the United States is meddling in regional affairs.