TURKISH nationalist protesters have assaulted three US sailors in Istanbul, trying to put hoods on them and chanting “Yankees go home”.
The protesters, who posted a video of the attack on an ultra-nationalist website, also threw red paint and chased the sailors down a street.
The sailors returned unharmed to their ship, the USS Ross, which was docked nearby, a US military spokesman said.
US officials condemned the attack, but said it appeared to be a one-off.
Turkish police reportedly arrested 12 people in connection with Wednesday’s incident.
Just before the assault, one of the protesters shouted in English at the sailors: “Because we define you as murderers, as killers, we want you to get out of our land.”
The protesters then started throwing objects at the sailors and grabbed hold of at least one of them, briefly pulling a white sack over his head.
Col Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, called the attack “ugly and disturbing”.
He described the assailants as “local thugs”, saying they brought “great discredit upon the Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality”.
“We’re working closely with Turkish authorities to have this investigated and to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he said.