Erdogan says Turkey will act if Syrian Kurdish militia attacks

Trump and Erdogan

Trump and Erdogan

Turkey has told the United States it will not join in any military operations that include Kurdish fighters in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday, while vowing to strike the USA -backed Kurds if they threaten Turkey's security.

Shortly after Erdogan was due to arrive at the ambassador's residence at the United States capital's "Embassy Row", members of his security detail pushed past USA police and gave protesters a taste of the hard-line tactics used to quell dissent in Turkey.

A video posted on the internet shows men in dark suits hunting anti-government protesters and beating and kicking them while the police intervene.

PRESIDENT TRUMP laid out the welcome mat this week for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the strongman apparently felt so much at home he thought it okay for his thugs to beat up peaceful demonstrators.

The mayor of the United States capital Washington DC says an attack by the Turkish President's bodyguards on unarmed protesters in the U.S. capitol yesterday is an affront to American rights. The department says the ambassador met Wednesday with Tom Shannon, the acting deputy secretary of state and highest-ranking career US diplomat. "One of them said, 'We are going to kill you because you are a traitor.' They think I am a Central Intelligence Agency agent because I am not a supporter of Erdogan".

The minister said Trump's new US administration seems more understanding about Turkey's security concerns.

The US has made a complaint to Turkey after violence erupted between protesters and Turkish security personnel in Washington, DC. In addition, Erdogan's government has arrested tens of thousands of people, including political opponents, since a failed military coup last summer.

This is not the first time Erdogan's security guards have faced scrutiny in the U.S. capital. Two US Secret Service agents were also assaulted in the brawl, an officer said.

Protest organizers told the New York Times those arrested were part of the group demonstrating against Erdogan.

The Turkish Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

"Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference Wednesday that officers are examining video to identify those responsible, but added that there may be issues with diplomatic immunity. The group is considered a terrorist group by both Turkey and the United States.

Erdogan met Trump at the White House on Tuesday, with the two leaders pledging to improve ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies - even as Erdogan gave a stern warning about Washington's arming of Kurdish militia in Syria.

Officials traveling with heads of state do not necessarily have diplomatic immunity, even if they have entered the US on a diplomatic visa.

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