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DC police set to charge 12 Turkish security agents for May melee against protesters: report

Twelve Turkish agents will face charges by D.C. Police after a brawl with protesters on May 16. Since many have returned to Turkey after the incident, it isn't clear if any will face legal repercussions in the U.S. (Image source: VOA video screenshot)

Twelve Turkish agents will face charges for a violent altercation in Washington, D.C., last month between security belonging to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a group of protesters, according to law enforcement sources, Yahoo News reported.

Video captured of the May incident showed men in dark suits and men in dark green shirts and khakis attacking protesters with punches and kicks. Police attempted to separate the opposing factions but to little avail. By the time the melee was over, 11 people were injured, nine of whom were taken to a hospital.

According to Yahoo News, D.C. police sources said that of the 12 Turkish agents that will be facing charges, seven will be charged with felonies, and five will face misdemeanor charges. Since Erdogan's detail returned with him to Turkey after the incident, it isn't clear if any will face legal repercussions in the U.S. However, they could be threatened with arrest should they return. If any remained in the country, they could be expelled if Turkey refuses to wave diplomatic immunity.

Yahoo also reported that police have arrested two men for their part in the brawl: Sinan Narin of Virginia and Eyup Yildirim of New Jersey. Both men are facing aggravated assault charges. Authorities have also charged Yildirim with assault with significant bodily injury.

According to D.C. police, two members of Erdogan's security were arrested, but were released shortly after. Two other men were arrested at the scene as well, both matching the charges brought upon Narin and Yildirim. It was not made clear what part the two played in the melee, but more information is to be released Thursday, according to The Guardian.

Yahoo reported that police have already identified 34 of the 42 people involved in the brawl and are currently seeking their arrests as well.

While D.C. police and the U.S. State Department faulted Turkish security personnel with starting the brawl, the Turkish government placed the blame on local cops for not providing adequate security to prevent the protest in the first place. It is still not clear how the brawl began, and investigations are ongoing.

This incident may worsen an already tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Turkey. The U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurdish rebels, considered in league with the militant insurgency group Kurdistan Workers Party, is considered to be against Turkish interests.

Currently, the 50,000 troops strong Syrian Democratic Forces, over half of which contain Syrian Kurds, are fighting the Islamic State in Syria. According to CNN, the U.S. considers this group to be most effective fighting force against the terrorist group in the region.

Turkey claimed, without evidence, that the protesters on May 16 are in league with the Kurdistan Workers Party, Yahoo reported. The protesters were reportedly there to show opposition toward Erdogan's negative stances on the Kurdish and Armenian peoples, as well as his attacks on Democratic institutions.

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