Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKKPKK
) has claimed multiple times that the Turkish forces have conducted chemical attacks against its fighters in the Kurdistan Region’s mountainous areas since April. Turkish authorities denied this on Friday, saying their army follows international laws.
The Turkish army has carried out several military operations against the PKK, an armed group struggling for the increased rights of Kurds in Turkey, in the Kurdistan Region in recent years, with the latest one being launched in April. Ankara sees the PKK as a terrorist organization. The Kurdish group has recently published several videos which purportedly show Turkish soldiers targeting its fighters with chemical substances.
On Tuesday, the PKK-affiliated Firat News Agency (ANF) published footage which it claimed showed Turkish soldiers putting chemical substances into a cave in Duhok province’s Warkhal area through a tube. The news outlet added that a couple of PKK fighters, who were in the cave, have been affected by the substances - suffering from memory loss and breakdown of nerves.
The PKK said a day earlier that Turkey had used banned bombs and chemical substances for at least 2,476 times since April. On Tuesday, the PKK also published the identities of 17 of its fighters whom it claimed had been killed in the alleged chemical attacks by Turkey.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDPHDP
) has taken the issue to the Turkish parliament, asking a number of questions to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, including whether an investigation has been launched into the claims.
The Turkish defence ministry on Thursday deemed the claims that its soldiers used chemical substances against the PKK “completely baseless and untrue.”
Turkish “Armed Forces do not use ammunition prohibited by international law and agreements. This type of ammunition is not in the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces,” the ministry said.
While returning from his trip from Azerbaijan on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on the plane that the Turkish army has not had “any faults like usage of chemical weapons until now.” He called the allegations “slanders,” reported state media.
Turkish authorities have launched investigations against the allegations, threatening to take legal action against those who promote them.
PKK supporters have held protests in several countries against the alleged chemical attacks by Turkey, with demonstrators attacking the United Nations office in Qamishli, northeast Syria (Rojava) on Wednesday.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella group which includes the PKK, called on Kurds on Saturday to speak up against the alleged chemical attacks.
“We call on everyone who has a conscience, who is on the side of life, to raise their voices and take action against this crime against humanity and crimes of war,” read a statement by KCK’s health committee, reported by the ANF.