U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has called for an investigation into allegations that Turkish forced use of white phosphorus, toxic chemical, against civilians during the country’s offensive in northeast Syria.
“We recognize that, under domestic and international law, white phosphorous has both legitimate military uses and illegitimate ones. However, the allegations from organizations and individuals on the ground, including the Kurdish Red Crescent, are clear in this case: that Turkey’s use was targetted at civilians, and falls under the category of illegitimate use,” Omar said, together with three other congresswomen, in a letter to James Jeffrey, U.S. Representative for Syria Engagement.
Kurdish sources, including the Kurdish Red Crescent and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), accuse Turkey of using munitions loaded with white phosphorus in the country’s military incursion in northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces launched on Oct. 9.
Turkey has issued statements rejecting the claims, while the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have launched investigations into the matter.
“The need for an investigation has been further compounded by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) claims that is merely ‘monitoring the situation’ rather than carrying investigating the allegations,” Omar said.
She also said Turkey should not be immune to an investigation because it is a NATO ally, rather the United States must take the allegations especially seriously because of Turkey’s membership.
“Will the Department of State commit to full accountability for the perpetrators of the attack if it is found to be in violation of domestic or international law, including potentially using a Security Council resolution to request an investigation from the International Criminal Court?” Omar asked.