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OPCW investigating possible use of white phosphorus in NE Syria: The Guardian

Smoke rises from a building near the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
2019-10-18

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SULAIMANI — The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has said this is investigating the possible use of white phosphorus against civilians in northeastern Syria.

According to a report in The Guardian, the OPCW “was aware of the situation and is collecting information with regard to possible use of chemical weapons.”

White phosphorus is commonly used by militaries for illumination and smoke screens, but can cause terrible chemical burns if it comes into contact with skin.

Its use against civilians is prohibited.

Earlier this week, the Kurdish Red Crescent said that six patients at a hospital at Hasakah had burns from “unknown weapons,” which were allegedly used in Ras al Ain. Some of the patients were civilians and others were members of the military.

On Thursday, Syrian Democratic Forces commander Mustafa Bali blamed Turkey in a tweet.

“We suspect that unconventional weapons are used against SDF fighters upon the reports and signs we receive from the besieged town.”

“We urge international organizations to send their teams to investigate some wounds sustained in [the] attacks,” he added.

The Guardian quoted a former commander of the UK’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear regiment Hamish de Bretton-Gordon as saying that the burns appeared to be consistent with white phosphorus.

“It is a horrific weapon, and has been used repeatedly during the Syrian civil war; unfortunately its use has become increasingly normalized,” he told The Guardian.

On Thursday, the OPCW announced that Turkey had contributed €30,000 to the organization in order to build laboratory facilities.

“This contribution is another display of the strong commitment of Turkey to the Chemical Weapons Convention and to the OPCW,” Permanent Representative of Turkey to the OPCW Saban Disli said in a press release.

(NRT Digital Media)