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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Turkish-backed forces using white phosphorus against Kurds: Report

Iran Press TV

Fri Oct 18, 2019 08:36AM

White phosphorus-loaded munitions appear to have been used by Turkish-backed forces in their ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, allegedly causing horrific burns on the bodies of Syrian Kurds, a report by Foreign Policy says.

Foreign Policy has received photos from a Kurdish source which show children in the border town of Ras al-Ayn with chemical burns on their chests and faces consistent with white phosphorus.

The report says the graphic photos have been confirmed by a senior US administration official.

Bassam Saker, the representative of the so-called Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) to the United States, the co-secretaries of the SDC's health department, Rapareen Hasn and Manal Mhemed, have in a letter to Foreign Policy said that "Turkey uses all kind[s] of weapons including the internationally prohibited ones, and our medical teams are unable to evacuate the civilians."

Saker has confirmed that the prohibited weapons referred to in the letter are white phosphorus-loaded munitions.

The report quoted the US official as saying that Washington is aware of the claims that Turkish allies have used white phosphorous and the possible evidence on social media that supports that claim.

"Turkey will be held accountable by the international community for the crimes they commit against the Kurds," the official said.

This confirms earlier reports by Syrian state media that said Ras al-Ayn locals have been arriving at a hospital with burns apparently from chemical substances.

Syria's official SANA news agency cited local sources as saying that several people have arrived at the Hasaka hospital with "severe burns," which were apparently caused by "unknown chemical substances."

Turkish-backed forces have a history of launching chemical attacks in northern Syria.

During the foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, militants from the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, together with members of the so-called White Helmets civil defense group staged chemical attacks in the northwestern province of Idlib as well as the west-central province of Hama in a bid to implicate Syrian government forces and invent pretexts for possible acts of aggression on army troops.

The report by Foreign Policy came hours after Turkey agreed to end the offensive after Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone.

Ankara's incursion "will be halted entirely on completion" of the withdrawal, US Vice President Mike Pence told reporters following more than five hours of negotiations between a US delegation and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital on Thursday.

Ras al-Ayn has been the scene of battles between Kurdish militants and the Turkish military. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish forces and allied militants had "taken about half of the town" by Thursday morning.

Turkey launched the offensive, called Operation Peace Spring, on October 9 with the aim of purging the northeastern Syrian regions near its border of Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

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