On 18 October, the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) released video footage of guerrilla fighters it claims were exposed to a chemical gas used by the Turkish armed forces in military operations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
The footage was the latest included in a long series of alleged chemical attacks by Turkish forces that have led to so-far-unanswered responses for independent and international delegations to conduct investigations.
Sources from the KRI say Turkish forces have constantly been using chemical weapons thousands of times as part of it’s military operations in the region, and a news report published this week by Roj News highlighted previous evidence including eyewitness testimony from fighters.
The Roj News report said that Turkey carried out chemical weapons attacks in the months-long military operations last year in various areas including Zendura in Metina and Girê Sor in Avaşîn. Several Kurdish fighters lost their lives due to these chemical attacks, it said.
The report also included footage published by ANF news agency on 16 October 2021, of Kurdish guerrillas describing the chemical attacks they say they witnessed. The fighters said Turkish forces had used chemical gas and explosives, rather than firearms, in the operation.
“The smoke and smell of these chemical gases were at times different from each other. Sometimes they used pepper spray, sometimes other chemical gases,” said one of the guerrillas.
Another Kurdish fighter, who noted that Turkish forces had started to use chemical weapons on the third day of the operation, said the corpses of the guerrillas exposed to chemical gas turned purple, and it was obvious that they had died of something that restricted their ability to breathe.
Last year, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) representative Dr Gisela Penteker called for an investigation to be carried out under the leadership of the UN and with the involvement of NATO into Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
After visiting the KRI and investigating some of the allegations with an IPPNW delegation this year, chemical and biological weapons expert Jan Van Aken said enough evidence had been unearthed to warrant further investigation. Turkey denied the allegation.
The use of chemical weapons is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1993. Turkey is among the signatories of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.