UN launches investigation into alleged use of white phosphorus by Turkey in Syria - The Guardian

The United Nations said on Friday it had launched an investigation and were gathering information following accusations on the possible use of chemical weapons by Turkish forces in Syria this week, the Guardian reported.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said “it was aware of the situation and is collecting information with regard to possible use of chemical weapons”.

White phosphorus is used legally by militaries as a smokescreen in the daytime and as an incendiary to light up an area at night, but it is illegal to use the chemical against civilians since it causes severe and painful wounds on contact with the skin, according to the Guardian.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday that Turkish authorities had received information that terrorist organisations in northern Syria would perpetrate chemical weapons attacks and try to blame the Turkish Armed Forces, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

“We have been receiving information that the terrorist organisation will use chemical weapons and will try to put the blame on Turkey in order to create such an image,” Akar told a press briefing. “It is well known that the Turkish Armed Forces have no chemical weapons in their inventory.”

However, regarding the relevant images of the possible use of chemical weapons, a British chemical weapons expert told the Guardian that it was likely that badly wounds on patients displayed chemical burns.

“The most likely culprit is white phosphorus. It is a horrific weapon, and has been used repeatedly during the Syrian civil war; unfortunately its use has become increasingly normalised,” the Guardian quoted Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commander of the UK’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear regiment, as saying.