ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A top UN official expressed concerns on Wednesday that chemical gas attacks may have been employed in the northwestern Kurdish enclave of Afrin, Syria, which has been under attack by Turkish forces for nearly a month.
“There have been several allegations of chlorine attacks in Ghouta, in Idlib, and also now recently in Afrin. While we cannot independently verify these allegations, but if confirmed, it is outrageous and should have no impunity,” UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council.
De Mistura clarified that the UN was unable to independently confirm claims that chemical gas attacks were used in Afrin. He called on all those fighting in Syria to “de-escalate immediately and unconditionally.”
He also urged for those involved to allow relief aid to reach those in need “without obstruction.”
“The last several weeks have seen a new cross-border conflict in Afrin with yet no clear end in sight,” the UN official said, referring to clashes between Turkish and Syrian Government forces, and also between the United States-led coalition and pro‑Syrian Government forces.
Last month, Turkey launched a military incursion, dubbed “Operation Olive Branch,” into the Kurdish-held Afrin region to sweep the People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from its southern border.
Ankara argues the YPG are an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has called on Washington to cease its backing of the Kurdish forces which Turkey calls a “terrorist” group.