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Turkey may be using chemical weapons against civilians in Syria

The development comes days after Trump abandoned Kurdish allies in the region, greenlighting Turkey’s planned military operation.

By Dan Desai Martin - October 18, 2019
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Syria, Kurds, Turkey

Despite Donald Trump’s claims of a “cease-fire,” fighting continues in northern Syria and multiple outlets are now reporting that Turkey may be using chemical weapons against civilians.

According to The Times, in one Syrian hospital, staff endured the screams of a 13-year-old child with burn wounds all over his torso that doctors suspected may have been caused by white phosphorus, a banned chemical weapon that causes intense burning and pain.

Late on Thursday, Foreign Policy also reported that photos of children with chemical burns on their chests and faces were “consistent with white phosphorus.”

Another expert said the burns were consistent with either white phosphorus or napalm, another chemical weapon.

The use of chemical agents in warfare is a violation of international humanitarian law.

United Nations inspectors are in the area “collecting information with regard to possible use of chemical weapons,” the Guardian reported on Friday. CBS News also reported there was convincing evidence that children had suffered burns from chemical weapons in recent days.

The Turkish military operation in northern Syria started following an Oct. 6 phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Trump. During that call, Trump appeared to acknowledge Erdogan’s planned military operation in northern Syria, targeting the Kurds, who Turkey sees as enemies.

Following the call, Trump declared American forces would withdraw from the region, effectively greenlighting the military operation.

Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), allies who fought alongside the United States in the battle against ISIS, has led to bipartisan rebuke from members of Congress.

In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Trump’s “decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties: It strikes at American honor,” adding, “What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.”

In addition to Kurdish allies fleeing or facing death and apparent attacks from chemical weapons, hundreds of ISIS-aligned prisoners have escaped as a result of the incursion, putting American lives in danger.

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence announced a cease-fire, saying Turkey would halt its attacks for five days in order to give Kurds in the area a chance to retreat. In return, he said, the United States would lift economic sanctions against Turkey.

Turkish officials called the concessions “face-saving for the U.S. side,” and added, “we got everything we wanted,” according to the Washington Post.

The cease-fire does not seem to be holding up. CNN reported Friday that Turkey has not stopped its military operation in northern Syria, with reports of several deaths from fighting in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain. A Syrian press officer in the region told CNN that ambulances were being prevented from entering a local hospital and “were shot at.”

As of Friday morning, Trump had not commented about chemical weapon usage or the breach of the cease-fire, but he did tweet several times about luxury Louis Vuitton handbags.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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