By Havva Kara Aydin
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey on Friday dismissed media reports that claimed the Turkish military used chemical weapons during its anti-terror operation in northern Syria.
“Baseless allegations that Turkey used chemical weapons within the scope of the Peace Spring Operation (PSO) were made in some international media outlets yesterday and today.
“We categorically reject these flagrant slanders stemming from disinformation by the terrorist organization,” Hami Aksoy, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.
The statement stressed that no chemical weapons exist in the inventory of the Turkish Armed forces.
“Turkey is a party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) since 1997. Turkey is also a party to all fundamental international instruments in the field of non-proliferation and also a member of export control regimes. In this context, Turkey fulfills all its obligations,” it said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry highlighted the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) stated that no “investigation” has been initiated and the trustworthiness of the allegations has not been verified.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Ministry dubbed the allegations as “completely unreal” which were brought up “to cast a shadow on the success of the Turkish Armed Forces.
In a statement, the ministry said only terrorists and their shelters, emplacements, weapons, tools and equipment were targeted, and great attention and sensitivity was shown to prevent any damage to civilian/innocent people as well as to the historical, cultural, religious structures, infrastructure facilities and the environment in the operation area.
On Thursday, Turkey agreed to pause its Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the planned safe zone.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also agreed on Turkey having 20 miles (32 kilometers) of safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria.
On Oct. 9, Turkey had launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin.