By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2014 – American and Turkish authorities will swiftly investigate the attack earlier today on three U.S. sailors in Istanbul, Turkey, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.
Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters the Defense Department condemns the attack by an alleged group of nationalist Turkish youths.
The attacks were carried out by “what appeared to be thugs on the street,” Warren said. “These attackers are a great discredit upon the Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality. We enjoy a strong relationship with our NATO ally Turkey. We’re confident the Turks will rapidly and effectively investigate [the incident].”
U.S. Sailors Back Aboard Ship
The American sailors, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Ross, are now back aboard their ship following the cancellation of their shore leave, the Pentagon spokesman said.
The USS Ross was on a scheduled port visit to Istanbul, according to a U.S. Navy statement issued today. The sailors managed to get away from their attackers without sustaining injury, the Navy statement said.
Warren said the USS Ross is due to leave Istanbul in the “very near future.”
U.S. to Train With Estonian Air Force
In other announcements, Warren said the United States will train with the Estonian Air Force in an exercise as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve between November 13 and 15. The U.S. military will fly two F-16 fighter jets from the 555th Fighter Squadron, also called the Triple Nickel.
The jets will deploy to Amari Air Base in Estonia, and support personnel from Aviano Air Base, Italy, will round out the operation, he said.
The exercise will include range training with Estonian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, and will focus on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities, Warren said.
“Through these strengthened relationships and engagements with our NATO ally Estonia, the U.S. demonstrates its shared commitment to a safe and secure Eastern Europe,” an official added.
Turning to Kobani, Syria, Warren said DoD is “encouraged by the arrival of the Peshmerga” there, in the fight to keep out terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
He added that the situation in the city where the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL remains fluid.
“We do believe friendly forces have made some limited gains,” Warren said.