Nine people were wounded during a protest outside the Turkish Embassy located on Washington, D.C.’s Embassy Row while President Donald Trump was meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, Tuesday, according to reports.
Around two dozen demonstrators were protesting against Erdogan’s policies outside the embassy. The injured were taken to George Washington University Hospital. According to a Washington Post report, the exact conditions of the wounded could not be determined; however, at least one was in serious condition.
One of the protestors named Flint Arthur, who was from Baltimore, Maryland told CNN: “We are protesting (Erdogan's) policies in Turkey, in Syria and in Iraq.”
Arthur said that supporters of the Turkish president broke police lines and attacked protestors at least thrice. Videos of the scene on Twitter showed several protestors bleeding after being hit continuously.
"They think they can engage in the same sort of suppression of protest and free speech that they engage in Turkey," Arthur said. "They stopped us for a few minutes ... but we still stayed and continued to protest Erdogan's tyrannical regime,” he added.
D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said that the authorities arrested two people outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Sheridan Circle, during the protests. Tuesday’s protests began with a march to the embassy from the 2500 block of Massachusetts Avenue.
The demonstrations came as Trump hosted Erdogan at the White House for the first time. The Turkish leader had a strained relationship with the U.S. during former President Barack Obama's administration and his reputation has mostly placed him in midst of controversies.
"We've had a great relationship and we will make it even better," Trump said during their meeting in the Oval Office as he sat beside Erdogan. "We look forward to having very strong and solid discussions."
Although Erdogan expressed his support for Trump when he ordered the firing of tomahawk missiles at a Syrian base in retaliation to a chemical weapons attack on the citizens, the two countries are in conflict over Trump's decision to arm Kurdish militias that are helping in the fight to drive out the Islamic State group (ISIS) from its Syrian stronghold in Raqqa. Turkey considers these militias as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party called People’s Protection Units, which has been labeled as a terrorist group by Europe, Turkey and the U.S.
Turkey, a NATO member has been a major ally to the U.S. in the fight against ISIS given its proximity to Syria and Iraq.
"We support Turkey in the... fight against terror and terror groups like ISIS and the PKK, and ensure they have no safe quarter, the terror groups," Trump said during their White House meeting.
"We also appreciate Turkey's leadership in seeking an end to the horrific killing in Syria,” he added.
Erdogan also agreed with Trump and praised him for the “legendary triumph” he had achieved in the election and mentioned that his first meeting with the new president would be a “historical turn of tide” in the relationship between the two countries.
“We are committed to fighting all forms of terrorism, without any discrimination whatsoever, that impose a clear and a present threat upon our future,” the Turkish president said.