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DC police to charge 12 Turkish security agents

Eyup Yildirim kicking Kurdish protester outside Turkish embassy

Washington officials are expected on Thursday to provide an update on a brawl last month outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington amid speculation that members of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's security personnel will face charges.

Coming nearly a month after the incident, the charges are the most significant retaliatory step taken to date by U.S. authorities, who have fumed privately and publicly over what they see as a highly offensive attack on free speech - not to mention USA law enforcement.

He said the U.S. State Department would handle any further action regarding execution of the arrest warrants.

In the statement, the Foreign Ministry said it summoned the American ambassador "upon learning that the USA authorities have issued arrest warrants for some Turkish citizens and some of the security personnel of our president, due to the incident that took place in front of the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C. on May 16th".

Initially two people were arrested after the incident - one was charged with aggravated assault and antoher for assault on a police officer.

New Jersey contractor Eyup Yildirim - seen in video footage attacking protestors with Erdogan's bodyguards and kicking a woman - was charged with assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault.

Erdogan's security detail returned with him to Turkey and the U.S. could seek their extradition or bar them from entering the country. However, the city's police chief said investigators had insufficient evidence to charge Erdogan in what he characterized as a "pretty brutal" attack.

The charges pose a test for the strategically important relationship between the US and Turkey.

Of the twelve men, seven will be charged with felonies and five with misdemeanors, a law enforcement official was quoted as telling the Chicago Tribune. However, they could end up being threatened with arrest if they return. He also said two arrests were made on Wednesday.

The State Department responded by saying "violence is never an appropriate response to free speech" and that officials are "communicating our concern with the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms".

Similarly, the Washington, D.C. police chief said the department would arrest any of the individuals if they returned to the US, although he would rather they turn themselves in. Two additional people were arrested at the scene on the day of the protests. Yildirim is awaiting extradition from New Jersey, the statement said.

It was not the first time Mr Erdogan's bodyguards had become violent while visiting the United States.

American officials strongly criticized Turkey's government and Erdogan's security forces for the violence; the State Department summoned Turkey's USA ambassador to complain. Turkey has still not apologized for the initial incident, instead charging that the "aggressive and unprofessional actions" of us security personnel against Turkish bodyguards remains the real issue at hand.

11 people were injured during the confrontation.

Newsham recounted how video near the residence showed some attacking protesters with their fists and feet.

A video of the incident showed Erdogan talking to his subordinates shortly before the fighting broke out.