Turkey’s cross-border operation targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) zones in northern Iraq, known as the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, and ruled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), has been ongoing since 24 April.
There have been numerous videos and reports, which have also been reported by Medya News, on Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters, mainly fighting for the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) and Free Women’s Units (YJA Star), the military wings of the PKK, during this last operation in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Most recently on 24 October, the HPG announced that “Turkey has used chemical weapons at least 323 times in the last 6 months.”
The HPG also provided information that 101 HPG fighters have been killed as a result of the operations, and 38 of these died in the chemical weapons attacks.
Dr. Bager Baran, a HPG commander, shared new information with ANF regarding Turkey’s much-debated use of chemical warfare, urging relevant international institutions to provide support to at least enable them to scientifically analyse the components of the toxic gases used by Turkey, which have serious and tangible side-effects on Kurdish fighters’ health.
“There are a few types of chemical nerve gases used here against us. It is quite difficult to analyse and prove this. It requires a labaratory and some sophisticated methods to identify them,” he said.
“They are very well aware of the fact that they have been using universally banned chemical warfare against us, so comfortably. Therefore, they do not leave traces of their use. But we still have facts.”
Dr. Baran stated that these chemicals “not only pose a threat to the guerilla, but also to all living creatures in the nature around, rendering all living creatures unable to breathe the oxygen in the environment where the chemicals have been used. These chemicals irritate the airways and cause breathing difficulties and ultimately death.”
Dr. Baran strictly emphasised that this is not the first time Turkey has used chemicals against Kurdish fighters. However, this is the first time Turkey is using chemicals “so frequently and in such high concentrations”.
“We observe the traces on the bodies of our martyred comrades, which are evidently different from the others,” he said, and further explained:
“For example, no creature’s skin peels away in two days like that of our friends. Chemical warfare does not only cause breathing problems, but also intoxicates the body and causes skin burns.”
The weapons deployed by Turkey previously did not have such serious side effects, he noted, like these burns on the bodies.
“You can see how these chemicals damage our friends’ skins, and we also know how they make it harder to breathe. These are our experiences.”
Dr. Baran openly indicated their lack of laboratory equipment, and urged relevant international institutions to give them support to analyse the chemical compounds used by Turkey.
“We don’t have the equipment to study these new variants of chemicals, but some institutions could come and conduct such studies,” he said.
“We could be a help to all institutions and scientists who monitor and investigate the use of chemical warfare. Such an investigation cannot be conducted from afar, a field investigation is required.”