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Exclusive: Footage of alleged Turkish chemical weapons attack leaked to Star amid calls for independent investigations

BRITISH people were urged to speak out against genocide today as Kurdish officials demanded global action and investigations into alleged chemical attacks in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Footage sent exclusively to the Morning Star purported to show the aftermath of a chemical attack, which officials said took place in the Avashin region of the mountainous Duhok province on May 3. 

It appears to show the dead body of a guerilla fighter from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) being pulled out of an underground tunnel by Turkish soldiers.

Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) spokesman Zagros Hiwa told the Morning Star: “You can see that the martyr has no wounds on his body. It is clear that this is the result of a chemical attack by Turkish forces.”

He explained that the footage was circulating on Turkish fascists’ WhatsApp groups, but had not appeared in the Turkish media “as it would prove that they are celebrating the use of chemical weapons.”

PKK military commander-in-chief Murat Karayilan accused the Turkish state of using poison gas when its operations were failing to advance as they hoped.

“It does not use it over a wide area, but in a very targeted manner. So, for example, in a particular area, from which it then stays away for a few days,” he said, explaining that the Turkish army had removed the dead bodies of the PKK fighters.

Turkey is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a 1997 treaty which “prohibits the large-scale use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons and their precursors, except for very limited purposes.”

It has consistently denied holding stockpiles of such weapons but has faced a string of accusations that it is conducting “a dirty war” against Kurds, using chemicals on a number of occasions, including attacks in northern Syria and the Makhmour refugee camp in northern Iraq.

In 2019 the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) dropped investigations into such an attack in Seri Kaniye, Rojava.

OPCW chief Fernando Arias claimed that white phosphorus, which had been identified as the substance “likely” used, cannot be used as a chemical weapon, therefore its use “doesn’t fall under the CWC.” 

His statement came just days after Turkey donated €30,000 (£25,000) to the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology, which both parties insisted was coincidental.

Nato, the United Nations and OPCW were contacted for comment but failed to respond, furthering claims of “a global conspiracy by the imperialist powers” against the Kurdish people.

The KCK foreign affairs committee called on all international organisations — including Nato, the UN and human rights organisations — to condemn Turkey’s alleged chemical attack.

“We also call on these institutions to send a delegation to the areas affected by the chemical weapons. 

“And we call on the international public, including the British people, to take a stance against Turkey’s dirty war,” it said in a statement to the Morning Star.

Turkey launched its illegal invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan on April 23, with ground troops meeting fierce resistance from the guerilla fighters.

Kurdish forces have accused Ankara of wanting to create a buffer zone along the border so that it can occupy all of Kurdistan.

It is claimed that Turkey has enlisted more than 2,000 jihadists to support its military operation.

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