Reports have surfaced that a Turkish chemical weapon attack in the Northern Syrian city of Afrin has hospitalized six civilians. The Turkish military is doing battle with US-backed Syrian Kurdish militias over control of the border city.
In January, tensions between the Syrian Kurdish militias and the Turkish military in Syria boiled over into Operation Olive Branch on January 20, when the Turks and their allies, the Free Syrian Army militia, attacked the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Afrin. The battle is ongoing, with the Turks having made minor progress and captured about ten percent of Kurdish territory. However, the Kurds have yet to lose any major strongholds.
The Kurds in question are members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a militia that formed the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who have acted as US proxies in Syria.
On Tuesday, Turkey accused Kurdish forces of using chemical weapons against their Syrian allies in the Free Syrian Army, injuring 20. Although allegations of the use of chemical weapons have been commonplace during the Syrian Civil War, the Kurds have rarely been accused of such war crimes.
The YPG denied the report, arguing that Ankara and the FSA were trying to “fabricate a cover for their fiasco in the north of Afrin.” They added that the Turks had launched a chlorine-gas attack against the Kurds, but hit the FSA instead.
The Daily Sabah, an independence Turkish outlet, then reported that no such chemical attack occured, and the FSA had instead inhaled smoke.