The People’s Defence Forces (HPG) has released video footage showing two guerrillas reported to have been caught in a Turkish chemical weapons attack in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
The footage, published on the ANF news site, adds to a growing body of evidence that the Turkish army has been using prohibited chemical weapons in its military operations against Kurdish guerrillas in the north of Iraq.
Released on Tuesday morning, the video footage shows a group of soldiers at the mouth of a cave with a device that the HPG says is being used to deliver chemical weapons into the cave. The soldiers then quickly depart over the mountain peak above as a smoky substance can be seen drifting behind them.
The next part of the video shows a female guerrilla being tended to, in what appears to be a tent. The guerrilla, who appears hysterical in the footage, suffered first from memory loss, then uncontrollable behaviour, before losing consciousness, Fırat News Agency (ANF) reported.
The video then cuts to a male guerrilla who is lying on his back, unresponsive and struggling to breathe.
The People’s Defense Centre (HSM) announced that a total of 17 guerrillas were killed in Turkey’s chemical weapons attacks, ANF reports. HSM published the names of deceased guerillas on Wednesday and accused the international community of being responsible for the expansion of Turkey’s chemical weapons operations.
The fighters fell victim to Turkish chemical weapons attacks during protracted, fierce battles in the tunnels in Werxelê, a strategically important area near the Turkish border, said Zîlan Mêrdîn, a guerrilla who provided first aid to the two casualties.
“Every day, the enemy has been blasting the entrance to tunnels with powerful explosives, and using tear gas or scented and unscented chemical gases, either at the same time as the bombs or directly after,” Mêrdîn told ANF.
The fighters, Baz and Helbest, “fell victim to the chemical weapons attacks on different days, but in the same way,” said Mêrdîn, adding that the powerful explosions had sown confusion and masked the smell of the chemical weapons.
While the HPG has reported thousands of suspected uses of chemical weapons by Turkish troops in the KRI, and observers including the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) have noted evidence supporting these claims, international authorities are yet to respond to calls for a full investigation.
The IPPNW noted the discovery of chemicals used to make prohibited chemical weapons, as well as equipment used to protect against these substances, at a site abandoned by Turkish troops.
The IPPNW also said the use of tear gas by Turkish troops – which Defence Minister Hulusi Akar admitted – constituted a breach of the international law against chemical weapons to which Turkey is a signatory.