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19 Apr, 2016 15:03

2 vengeful Turks try to hood US soldier, say he’s ‘responsible for terrorism in our country’

Two local men attacked an American soldier at a US air base in Turkey, attempting to put a sack over his head. The assailants, who were briefly arrested, said they wanted revenge for a 2003 incident in Iraq involving American troops hooding Turkish soldiers.

The incident took place during an invitation-only event at the US Incirlik air base in the southern province of Adana on Saturday, according to Turkish media.

Two members of the Youth Union of Turkey, the right-wing group, identified as Yalcin Semir Akarsu and Cenk Kizilirmak approached a US soldier, whose name hasn’t been released. The group opposes Turkey’s aspirations to membership in the EU and fights what it calls “American imperialism.”

In the video released by the group on Facebook, Akarsu tells the US soldier: “You put sacks over our soldiers' heads in 2003. You are responsible for that and for the terrorism in our country.”

He then tried to put a sack over the American’s head and chased him. Kizilirmak reportedly filmed the video.

The US soldier wasn’t injured in the incident.

The Turkish men were apparently referring to the so-called ‘hood event’ which took place in Iraq back in 2003. A group of Turkish soldiers who were working in northern Iraq were captured by US troops. They were led away with hoods over their heads, and interrogated by the US military. The Turkish soldiers were released after 60 hours, following an official protest by Ankara to Washington.

Akarsu and Kizilirmak were detained on Sunday, however released a day later on bond, according to the AP.

The US military described it as an isolated incident, which is still under investigation by Turkish and US authorities, as Air Force Lt. Col. David Westover, spokesman for the US-European Command told the agency.

Turkey hasn’t yet released any comments.

According to former Turkish ambassador to US Osman Faruk Logoglu, anger over 2003 incident has not diminished.

“The [2003] incident has never been forgotten. When you do something bad, you get something in response,” he told RT, adding that the incident “touches sensitive nerve” in the Turkish public.

On Monday Cagdas Cengiz, president of the Youth Union of Turkey, told AP that the group rejects “foreign and imperialist powers in Turkey.” The images of a "US soldier running away" should send a message to the whole world, he added.

The relations between the US and Turkey have been strained recently. Washington has been voicing support to Kurdish fighters who resist Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, much to Ankara’s ire. On top of that, during his March visit to the US, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not manage to secure a formal meeting with Barack Obama.

The relationship between US and Turkey may deteriorate in the future, Ronald Suny from Eisenberg Institute for Historical studies said.

“Turkey is a very divided country at the moment. There are a lot of rightist [and] leftist groups who have their own agendas and who target the US. The problem is that Turkey has its own interest and own direction.”