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Turkish Ultra-Nationalists Released After Attack on US Servicemen

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross, with the Byzantine-era monument of Hagia Sophia in the background, prepares to leave from the port in Istanbul, Nov. 13, 2014.

Turkish authorities have released a group of 12 Turkish ultra-nationalists who were detained after attacking three U.S. sailors in Istanbul on Wednesday.

A Turkish news agency, Dogan, reported that the suspects appeared in an Istanbul court on Thursday to face possible charges of injury, insult and breaching laws on public protests, before being released by the prosecutor.

In the attack on Wednesday, the ultra-nationalists hurled balloons filled with red paint at the sailors, put sacks over their heads, and called them murderers with chants of "Yankee Go Home."

The sailors had just disembarked from the guided missile destroyer USS Ross, docked in Istanbul for a few days. They escaped unharmed and returned to the ship, after which all shore leave for the crew was canceled.

A video posted online by the group, the Turkish Youth Union, shows its members, in broad daylight, attacking the sailors, who were not in uniform.

The U.S. embassy described the video, apparently filmed by one of the gang, as "appalling," and condemned the attack. The Turkish Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack.

The USS Ross was expected to leave Turkey on Thursday.