Nightly News   |  June 17, 2013

Tense standoff in Istanbul

Labor unions joined protestors still reeling from the government crackdown over the weekend where the Prime Minister of Turkey blamed foreign media and other “instigators.” NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a major point of contention at the g8, the continuing violent crackdown in turkey. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel with us from istanbul with more on both front. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian, first on syria, we're in close contact with the syrian opposition here, in particular with the commander of the free syrian raerm, the man the united states is proposing to arm. but he told us he hasn't heard anything about any weapons shipment, nothing. in fact, he was in tears of frustration, saying his men are dying while the united states is proposing what he called half measures. here in turkey, protests looked like they were almost over until they took a very violent turn this weekend. a tense standoff today as labor unions joined defiant protesters, still reeling from the government crackdown. on saturday night, police stormed taksim square , driving out protesters from their peaceful camp, they have been warned but refused to leaveful the government called them vandals and anarchists, many rushed to side streets , some barricaded themselves in a hotel, using the lobby as a makeshift infirmary, and then police fired teargas inside.

>> oh!

>> many people overcome.

>> it was mayhem.

>> we have to run, because they are using teargas.

>> reporter: on sunday, protesters fought back in clashes across istanbul . this is one of the largest protest movements . police clearing out istanbul . the gas was felt everywhere. protesters hoping re-take the square were forced back. barricades built to block the police were of little use.

>> we don't want to clash. just want to get into the main square and protest peacefully.

>> reporter: the government response? at a mass rally of supporters, prime minister erdogan blames foreign media and other instigato instigators, dismissing protest allegations that he became a hardliner with an islamic agenda. state tv claim a million attended. prime minister erdogan is still generally popular in this country, but shocked many here by many so intolerant.

>> richard, thanks.