Turkey denies use of chemical weapons in Afrin

Medical officials at Afrin's main hospital told Kurdistan 24 that a suspected chlorine gas attack on Friday injured six civilians in the Arenda village.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish government officials on Saturday denied the use of chemical weapons as reported by the Kurds and an independent watchdog during the army’s ongoing offensive on the Afrin region in Syrian Kurdistan.

“What a reliable source you have? Stop lying [sic],” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet quoting a story by Russian state-funded Russia Today TV on Turkey’s targeting the Kurds with toxic gas.

Medical officials at Afrin’s main hospital told Kurdistan 24 that a suspected chlorine gas attack on Friday injured six civilians in the Arenda village west of the self-declared canton near the border with Turkey.

Doctors said the patients treated at the hospital were suffering from skin and lung irritation and were having difficulty breathing.

An unnamed Turkish diplomatic source speaking to Reuters denied any use of chemical weapons in operations in Syria.

“These are baseless accusations. Turkey never used chemical weapons. We take utmost care [of] civilians in Operation Olive Branch,” the source said.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also reported that the Turkish military and its Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies employed a toxic gas during an attack on Arenda with mortars.

There was no comment by the Turkish Army General Staff.

Senior Turkish leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet members, have consistently denied any civilian loss of life during the assault on Afrin.

UN reports, the SOHR, and local Kurdish authorities disagree, with the latter putting the number of civilians killed by Turkish airstrikes and shelling at 180, with 413 wounded, and 60,000 displaced.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany