US, Turkey spar over Erdogan visit violence, Kurdish support

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On Tuesday, members of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's armed security detail viciously beat up protesters, putting some in the hospital.

Erdogan made the comments Thursday while addressing Turkish businessmen in Istanbul after returning to Turkey from a Tuesday visit to the White House.

Kurdish protesters can be heard chanting in the video.

Another video shared on social media Thursday showed Erdogan watching the melee unfold from the backseat of his vehicle.

The U.S. respects Turkish concerns about its "by, with, and through" approach to the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the YPG, and will continue consulting with Ankara as the focus on combating IS continues, Nauert said.

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"At the moment the mountains are filled with ammunition", Erdogan said, adding Turkish security forces have been engaging in all kinds of struggle.

The VOA footage zooms in as Erdogan's security detail is seen punching and kicking the protesters. The two leaders touted strong ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, but Erdogan emphasized his country will not accept Syrian Kurdish fighters in the region while stopping short of directly criticizing a US decision to arm them. The initial response from the State Department condemned the violence. It also fueled the perception that the USA allows Turkey's leader to bring strongman tactics with him when he visits the US capital.

However, coalition officials state that capturing Raqqa remains a key objective.

In a statement, the Turkish embassy blamed the fighting on demonstrators who "began aggressively provoking" Turkish-American citizens who had assembled to greet Erdogan.

Turkey considers the People's Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria a terror organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

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Speaking too freely might be grounds for a beating in Turkey.

And Erdogan, speaking in Istanbul two days after meeting Trump, said he was putting Washington on notice that his forces won't hesitate to attack USA -backed Kurds if they threaten Turkey. He warned that senior US diplomat Brett McGurk, in the anti-IS coalition, should not "poison" the administration by backing Kurdish groups.

The Trump Administration hasn't responded to the demand for an ouster, but McGurk's position appears in-line with the rest of the administration on arming the Kurdish YPG and using them against ISIS.

But it didn't happen in Turkey, where Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian government shows little patience with dissent.

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