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Troops are urged to avoid theaters with Turkish film

A woman stands next to a billboard featuring the new Turkish movie “Valley of the Wolves Iraq” in Istanbul, Turkey. Tickets for the movie, the latest of a genre of pop culture works feeding off growing anti-American sentiment in Turkey, are selling out across the country.

MURAD SEZER / AP

Army says “Kurtlar Vadisi Irak” depicts GIs as indiscriminate killers

By BEN MURRAY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 7, 2006

Soldiers in Europe have been advised to avoid movie theaters showing a new Turkish film that depicts U.S. soldiers as indiscriminate killers of Iraqis, according to an Army communication circulated last week.

In a message sent to troops at U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels in eastern Germany on Friday, Army officials ask troops to steer clear of “anything that looks like a protest” at theaters showing the film “Kurtlar Vadisi Irak” (“The Valley of the Wolves Iraq”) and to avoid discussions about the movie.

“Force protection advice is to avoid theaters or movie plexes showing the film and to avoid getting into discussions about the movie with persons you don’t know,” the advisement reads.

The Hohenfels notice was a copy of a memo sent to all U.S. Army Europe bases last week warning that the film was due for European release early this month, said U.S. Army Europe spokesman Bob Purtiman.

The movie is reportedly one of the biggest-budget pictures to come out of Turkey to date, and shows scenes of American troops firing on civilians at a wedding in northern Iraq, according to the film’s Web site. The movie begins with a portrayal of a real event in 2003, when U.S. soldiers mistakenly arrested 11 Turkish commandos in northern Iraq, sparking a brief diplomatic clash between the U.S. and Turkey.

In the film, the event pushes one of the commandos to commit suicide, driving a friend to travel to Iraq to find the man who orchestrated the 2003 arrests.

There, the character finds “unendurable crimes against humanity” being committed by an American Special Forces unit under the command of a character played by Hollywood actor Billy Zane, the film’s Web site reads.

Actor Gary Busey also has a role as a Jewish-American doctor who removes and sells organs from survivors sent to Abu Ghraib prison, according to an Associated Press report.

The film will be released in European theaters — including in London and Wiesbaden and Frankfurt in Germany — in the weeks following its Feb. 3 premiere in Turkey, prompting Army officials to send out last week’s advisory.

The Army note was one of several sent to servicemembers in Europe last week in anticipation of the release of the film.

At Incirlik Air Base near the city of Adana, Turkey, home to the 39th Air Base Wing, the base commander told servicemembers that a Turkish blockbuster was coming out, but did not mention either the content of the film or any advice to avoid it, base spokeswoman Capt. Denise Burnham said.

Troops only were advised to remember general safety precautions about being in large crowds in foreign nations, she said.

The release of the film also prompted officials at U.S. Air Forces in Europe headquarters to send a similar “internal notice” last week reminding airmen to exercise caution, a USAFE spokesman said Monday.


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