ISTANBUL – Two Turkish nationalists who accosted a U.S. soldier and tried to cover his head with a sack at an air base in southern Turkey have been released on bond, the U.S. military said Monday.
"They are awaiting further actions by Turkish officials as the incident is still under investigation by Turkish and U.S. authorities," said Air Force Lt. Col. David Westover, spokesman for the U.S.-European Command. He described it as an isolated incident.
The Turkish assailants, identified by local media as Yalcin Semir Akarsu and Cenk Kizilirmak, were at Incirlik air base for an invitation-only event held Saturday. They were detained as they tried to leave the base. The soldier was not injured.
There has been no comment from Turkish officials on the issue.
The members of the Turkish Youth Union posted online their failed attempt to hood a U.S. airman, describing their action as revenge for an incident in northern Iraq in 2003 in which U.S. soldiers detained Turkish special forces members and led them away with hoods over their heads. Many in Turkey viewed it as a deliberate insult.
Cagdas Cengiz, president of the union, told the AP the group rejects "foreign and imperialist powers in Turkey" and that the images of a "U.S. soldier running away" should send a message to the world.
Incirlik is a critical base in the fight by the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State militants, and includes strike aircraft, drones and refueling planes.
Last month, the State Department and Pentagon ordered the families of U.S. diplomats and military personnel to leave posts in southern Turkey due to "increased threats from terrorist groups" in the country.
Rising reported from Berlin.