Turkey denies reports of using chemical weapons in Syria's Afrin
Iran Press TV
Sat Feb 17, 2018 02:10PM
Despite reports that the Turkish military has made use of internationally-banned chemical weapons in its ongoing offensive in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin, Ankara denies having carried out a gas attack, arguing it takes the “utmost care” of civilians.
“The Turkish army possesses aircraft, tanks and missiles, and is using weapons banned by international conventions like napalm and shells laced with chlorine,” Reizan Hedu, from the Kurdish Self-Defense Forces, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency on Saturday.
Hedu further noted that Turkish troops actually did not advance in Afrin, but engaged in hit-and-run tactics instead.
The remarks came a day after the general director of Afrin Hospital, Jiwan Mohammad, told Syria’s official news agency, SANA, that six people had been admitted to the medical facility with symptoms of “breathing difficulties, coughing, and burning all over their bodies,” which he said were indicative of a chemical weapon attack.
He added that the victims came from al-Mazyaneh village on the outskirts of Afrin.
Mohammad noted that four of the victims were stable, while two others were in a critical condition.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also told Reuters that Turkish forces and their Syrian militant allies had hit the village on Friday with shells. The Britain-based monitoring group also said medical sources in Afrin reported that six people in the attack suffered breathing difficulties and dilated pupils, indicating a suspected gas attack.
Syrian medical teams are reportedly working to identify the type of toxic gas used in the attack.
Meanwhile, a Turkish diplomatic source denied reports about a suspected gas attack in Afrin as “black propaganda.”
“These are baseless accusations. Turkey never used chemical weapons. We take utmost care about civilians in Operation Olive Branch,” the source said.
Ankara views the the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists,” and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.
This is while US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.
The controversy over a possible Syria border force first started on January 14 when a report emerged on Reuters saying that the military coalition led by the United States in Syria was planning to set up a large border force of up to 30,000 personnel with the aid of its militia allies.
The Syrian government has condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
Damascus "strongly condemns the brutal Turkish aggression on Afrin, which is an inseparable part of [the] Syrian territory," SANA cited a Syrian Foreign Ministry source as saying on January 20, the day Turkey launched the offensive.
“Syria completely denies claims by the Turkish regime that it was informed of this military operation,” the source added.
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