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Erdogan watches security guards beat protesters in Washington

20 May 2017

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 US -backed Kurds if they threaten Turkey's security.

Video footage showing Erdogan briefly overlooking the brawl has fueled speculation that the president himself ordered his guards to break up the protest before he entered the ambassador's residence.

USA lawmakers demanded stronger action.

"We've had a great relationship and we will make it even better", Trump said, despite Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian leadership and Turkey's stalwart opposition to the United States' decision to arm Syrian Kurds.

Turkey also criticizes the USA for supporting the PKK's Syrian offshoot People's Protection Units (YPG), which has soured relations between Ankara and Washington.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish delegation accompanying him arrived in Washington, D.C. on Monday where the Turkish president met his American counterpart Donald Trump.

"If [the guards] were accredited members of the diplomatic mission, then they have diplomatic immunity and that would be upheld", said Stanford University law professor Allen Weiner, a former State Department legal advisor. -Turkish tensions compounded by a spat over USA war strategy against the Islamic State group in Syria.

"This isn't Turkey. This isn't a third-world country", McCain said on MSNBC.

Violence in Turkey has escalated in recent years both in the fight against terror and during an unsuccessful coup attempt against Erdogan last year. The clash happened outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington on Tuesday.

McCain and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told Erdogan in a letter they sent Thursday that the "actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans".

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New video published Thursday shows Erdogan's black Mercedes sedan surrounded by agents as it sat parked near the demonstrations. Another person wrenches a woman's neck and throws her to the ground. "Turkey and the USA will together run an active combat against the PKK". Turkey sees them as a PKK extension and an existential threat to Turkish sovereignty.

Even before those protests turned violent, there was considerable unhappiness within the Turkish community regarding Trump's willingness to offer Erdogan an official White House visit. He said Erdogan must be held accountable. "We will take such a step and we won't discuss it or consult with anyone". "We hope that, in the future, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur", the statement said.

Still, Nauert sought to acknowledge Turkey's misgivings about terrorism by the PKK and other groups.

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