People’s Defence Forces (HPG), an armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claimed that the Turkish army has used chemical weapons in recent attacks on tunnels used by Kurdish fighters, prompting calls for international investigations and solidarity.

People’s Defence Forces (HPG) has accused the Turkish army of using chemical weapons and banned explosives in attacks on Kurdish fighters in the Girê FM area of the Western Zap region. The HPG released a statement on Sunday detailing these alleged actions in the HPG-held Medya Defence Zones in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

HPG’s press release several instances of alleged chemical weapon use. “On 10 May, our tunnels in the Girê FM Resistance Area were bombed three times with banned explosives,” the statement read. “From 17:00 until 04:00 on 11 May, toxic chemical gases were used against our war tunnels.”

The HPG also reported that Turkish fighter jets carried out 17 attacks on HPG-held areas on 10 and 11 May, targeting multiple locations across the Xakurkê, Garê, Metîna and Western Zap regions.

In response to these alleged attacks, Kurdish fighters continued their actions against Turkish troops. The HPG detailed various operations, including sniper attacks and heavy weapons fire targeting Turkish positions in the Girê Amediyê and Girê Cûdî areas.

The Assembly of Martyrs’ Families in Afrin-Shehba Canton of Kurdish-led northern Syria condemned the Turkish army’s alleged use of chemical weapons, calling it a violation of international law. “The Turkish state’s use of chemical and poisonous weapons is a clear violation of international agreements and a crime in every sense,” the Assembly stated. They urged international organisations to prosecute Turkish leaders for these alleged war crimes.

Human rights defenders in Turkey and worldwide have long called for independent investigations into allegations of chemical weapon use by the Turkish army against Kurdish fighters. Forensic expert and human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı, a member of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, was previously arrested for requesting such an investigation. Protests by Kurds around the world have further highlighted these concerns. The then Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has admitted to using tear gas against Kurdish fighters in confined spaces. The Iraqi parliament is set to probe these allegations, with an Iraqi MP confirming the investigation.