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Turkey denies it used chemical weapons in Syria

Turkey and allied Syrian rebels have waged a nearly month-long offensive against the YPG. [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 February, 2018

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said shelling from either Turkey or allied factions hit al-Sheikh Hadid west of Afrin and left six people with 'enlarged pupils' and 'breathing difficulties'.

Turkey denied on Saturday that used chemical weapons in Syria, after around six people were hospitalised in Afrin after being allegedly exposed to a toxic gas on Friday.

It said the accusations chemical weapons were used in the offensive against a Syrian Kurdish militia were "baseless", a Turkish diplomatic source said on Saturday.

The Turkish source was reacting to claims by the head of Afrin hospital in northern Syria that six men were treated late Friday after shelling during the offensive and had symptoms that were in line with exposure to toxic agents.  

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said shelling from either Turkey or allied factions hit al-Sheikh Hadid, west of the town of Afrin, and left six people with "enlarged pupils" and "breathing difficulties".

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP he could not confirm whether toxic gases were used.

The Turkish source said Ankara took the "utmost care" regarding civilian safety and that the claims Turkey was responsible for an alleged gas attack were "baseless".

"Turkey never used chemical weapons," the source added. "(These are) lies... this is black propaganda."

Turkey last month launched military operation dubbed "Olive Branch" supporting Syrian rebels with ground troops and airstrikes against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, viewed as "terrorists" by Ankara.

Turkey said the YPG is linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by the United States and the European Union.

The YPG has been working closely with Washington to oust the Islamic State group from Syria, which has strained relations between the two NATO allies.

The Observatory says at least 78 civilians have died during Turkey's operation but Ankara repeatedly insists it is taking all the necessary measures to protect civilians.

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