Turkish military forces have used chemical weapons during the bombing of several areas in northern Iraq, an official from the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a Kurdish umbrella group, told British newspaper the Morning Star.
Turkey used the weapons three times this week, in the Amedi district and mountainous areas in Dohuk, said KCK Spokesman Zagros Hiwa, the Morning Star reported on Tuesday.
Hiwa said the chemicals were employed in attacks on tunnels used by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for four decades. The PKK, labelled as a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union, has established bases in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, which it uses to launch attacks on Turkish territory.
Turkey started a ground operation against PKK bases close to the Turkish border on April 24, Kurdish sources told the Hawar news agency last week.
Hiwa told the Morning Star that at least 38 Turkish soldiers had been killed since the start of the operation. The Turkish Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that one soldier had died. On Monday, it reported that 37 PKK members had been “neutralised” since the start of the fighting.
Turkey deliberately began the operation to coincide with the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Hiwa said. “The message to Kurds is clear,” he said. “Now it’s your turn.” The anniversary was on Saturday.
Turkey has been accused of using chlorine gas during a 2018 military incursion into northern Syria and white phosphorus in a military operation into Kurdish-controlled parts of the country in 2019, the Morning Star said.