U.S. sailors attacked in Turkey, have bags placed over heads

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Three U.S. Navy sailors were assaulted and had bags placed over their heads during a stop in Istanbul, Turkey, according to U.S. military officials.

The incident, captured on video, happened Wednesday when sailors from the USS Ross were attacked by members of the Turkish Youth Union, according to local Turkish press accounts.

A statement posted on the Turkish Youth Union website said the bags were placed on the sailors’ heads to protest American “imperialism” in the Middle East and other areas.

“Long live oppressed nation’s war against imperialism,” the statement said.

Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman with U.S. European Command, told CNN that “U.S. Navy officials are working with the embassy and (Navy investigators) to investigate the incident. The three sailors were unharmed and are safely back aboard. They did not require medical attention.”

The assailants appeared to be Turkish neo-nationalists shouting slogans including, “Yankee Go Home,” according to local press accounts. They did not appear to be tied to ISIS, which is based in neighboring Syria.

“The incident does not reflect the hospitality nor the welcome reception our ships receive in port in Turkey,” Hicks went on to say, and added that leave for sailors from the ship was canceled for the remainder of the day.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement condemning the attack, “which is in no way tolerable.”

The United States Embassy in Ankara also condemned the attack through its official Twitter feed.

“We condemn today’s attack in Istanbul, and have no doubt the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality,” the tweet said.

CNN’s Samira Said and Hande Atay contributed to this report.

By Jamie Crawford

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