When is a chemical weapon not a chemical weapon – when it is white phosphorous? When is a war crime not a war crime – when it is committed by a NATO country. The international community should stop turning a blind eye to Turkey’s criminal acts.

Nov 9, 2020 | Uncategorized

This Kurdish boy survived a Turkish attack using white phosphorous – but was very badly burnt and scarred for life.

When is a chemical weapon not a chemical weapon – when it is white phosphorous? When is a war crime not a war crime – when it is committed by a NATO country. The international community should stop turning a blind eye to Turkey’s criminal acts.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL9502):

Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic about the progress it has made in investigating alleged violations of international law in Syria, and in particular, the alleged use of white phosphorus by Turkey in Northern Syria; and what assessment they have made of the current weapon classification of white phosphorus. (HL9502)

Tabled on: 26 October 2020

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

The UK Government has regular discussions with the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Syrian Arab Republic about its investigations of alleged violations of international law in Syria, and welcomed the Commission’s latest report presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2020. As the COI is the international body responsible for investigating alleged violations of international law in Syria, the UK encourages it to investigate all allegations of violations and abuses of international law in Syria. The COI reported on Turkey’s ‘Operation Peace Spring’ in their March 2020 report to the Human Rights Council, including on particular cases of hostilities, and called on the Turkish authorities to launch their own investigations into these and to make the findings public. It did not specifically report on the use of white phosphorus. We have continued to make clear that white phosphorous is a legitimate obscurant, but any targeting of civilians is against International Humanitarian Law.

Date and time of answer: 09 Nov 2020 at 14:58.

According to The Times British ministers issued more than 70 export licenses over the past two decades for military products sold to Turkey containing white phosphorous,
Dozens of civilians, including several children were left severely injured

The UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has launched an investigation into the suspected chemical attack on Kurdish civilians, The use of white phosphorous, commonly used to create smokescreens, is permitted under several treaties.  The Geneva Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention, however, ban the use of the substance in instances where civilians could be harmed. The chemical burns deep into the muscle and bone

Amnesty International says its “use in the vicinity of civilian concentrations” is a war crime








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