Chemical weapons watchdog: Turkey did not use white phosphorus in Syria

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons refutes claims on social media and from some news organisations that Turkish backed forces used 'white phosphorus'.

Speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters on Tuesday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) chief Fernando Arias stated that white phosphorus is not a chemical weapon and cannot be used as one due to its chemical character.

He explained: It has not been used in Syria.

"It is used in conventional armaments for producing smoke as an incendiary weapon or producing light. It does not fall under the chemical weapons convention.

On October 9, Turkey started Operation Peace Spring to secure its borders from YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria and to help build a safe zone within northern Syria to resettle Syrian refugees.

PKK is recognised as a terror organisation by the US, EU and Turkey. In its decades-long terror campaign, over 40,000 people have been killed.

YPG is its Syrian branch.

During its operation, news organisations, as well as the social media accounts of YPG/PKK supporters, accused Turkish-backed forces of using 'chemical weapons', specifically white phosphorus.

Several agencies and news sources shared fake photos of people with burns, presenting it as a result of Turkey's operation.

Several statements from Turkish officials rejected the claims, and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, repeatedly stated: Turkey does not have any chemical weapons. Despite this, Western media sources kept accusing Turkey of using chemical weapons.

The Guardian attributed the claim to Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commander of the UK's chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear regiment who said: The most likely culprit is white phosphorus.

In one report, Newsweek stated: It is not yet clear exactly what kind of munitions impacted Ras al Ayn and how they were deployed. The same organisation also tried to form a correlation between Turkey's donation of Euros 30,000 ($33,247) to the OPCW and Arias's latest statement in which he said: So far, the OPCW has not yet determined the credibility of these allegations."

Foreign Policy (FP) went with the headline: Turkish-backed forces appear to be using munitions loaded with white phosphorus�a chemical that can maim and kill when it comes in contact with human flesh�in their violent campaign against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria."

The publications did not give a source for the information, instead, it simply said: Foreign Policy has learned.

The coverage continued in this manner and soon after the UN Human Rights Council spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani issued a statement brushing aside these claims saying: We have not heard anything.

The Head of International Rescue Crews Association, Professor Hilmi Ozden, also debunked the claims, stating: The pictures do not meet with the scientific realities.

Source: TRT World and Agencies