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Turkey accused of chemical weapons attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan

by Steve Sweeney,
in Slemani, Iraqi Kurdistan

TURKEY has used chemical weapons three times in the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq in the past three days, a senior Kurdish official told the Morning Star today.

Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) spokesman Zagros Hiwa claimed that chemicals had been used during Turkish bombing of the Amedi district, in the mountainous region of Duhok, which borders Turkey.

“They used chemical weapons in the Mamresho hills overlooking Basyan river, and Marvanos hills overlooking the Avashin river,” he said.

“They have used the chemicals against the tunnels there,” Mr Hiwa added, referring to the underground system used by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerilla fighters.

Some 76 villages in Amedi district were cut off from electricity due to Turkish bombing today, which has also destroyed acres of forest land as the invasion intensifies.

Mr Hiwa said that “at least 38 Turkish soldiers have been killed” in confrontations with PKK fighters since it launched a ground invasion on April 24.

“It is part of a genocidal campaign against the Kurds deliberately timed to coincide with the 106th anniversary of the Armenian genocide,” he said.

“The message to Kurds is clear. We will kill you just as we killed the Armenians in the beginning of the 20th century. Now it’s your turn.”

Turkey has a long history of using chemical weapons against Kurds. In the 1930s Sabiha Gokcen, the adopted daughter of former president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, dropped gas on Kurds in Dersim during the uprising there.

In February 2018 its forces were suspected of using chlorine gas during Operation Olive Branch, the illegal invasion and occupation of Afrin.

And in October 2019 Turkey was accused of using white phosphorus in an attack on the town of Sere Kaniye in the northern Syrian enclave known as Rojava.

The Morning Star reported from the site of an alleged chemical attack on the UN-administered Makhmour refugee camp in northern Iraq last year.

The international community has refused to investigate the allegations, leaving Turkey to act with impunity.

At least 55 people have now been detained since a protest called by the Tevgara Azadi group in the city of Slemani on Sunday. 

Spokesman Nerman Ehmed said today that local Asayish officials were instructed to detain everyone who took part in the action.

A source told the Star that “this was the work of Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)” who are afraid of the PKK.

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