Chemical weapons watchdog checking Kurdish allegations in Syria

The headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is pictured in The Hague, Netherlands, October 4, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2019

Chemical weapons watchdog checking Kurdish allegations in Syria

THE HAGUE: The UN's chemical weapons watchdog said Tuesday it was checking Kurdish allegations that Turkish forces fired non-conventional weapons in northern Syria, but emphasised it had not launched a formal investigation.
"OPCW experts are engaged in the process of assessing the credibility of allegations concerning the situation in Northern Syria," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement.
The Hague-based body added however that "the OPCW has not launched an investigation" into charges by Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria that Turkey has used banned weapons such as napalm and white phosphorus munitions since it launched an offensive there on October 9.
Ankara has denied the charges.
OPCW specialists continue to collect information "with regard to any alleged use of chemicals as a weapon," the watchdog group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of Syrian sources, has said it could not confirm the use of chemical weapons.
Kurdish fighters suffering from burns had reached a hospital in Tal Tamr, near the border town of Ras al-Ain that was bombarded by pro-Turkish forces,, the observatory said.
The use of chemical weapons, including substances similar to napalm and phosphorous has been alleged many times since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
Kurdish authorities posted images on social media that showed children suffering from burns that a local doctor said might have been caused by chemical substances.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has told reporters that Turkish forces have not resorted to using "chemical weapons."

Internet restricted in protest-hit Iran: report

Updated 59 min 10 sec ago

Internet restricted in protest-hit Iran: report

TEHRAN: Authorities have restricted Internet access in Iran, the semi-official ISNA news agency said on Sunday, after nearly two days of nationwide protests triggered by a petrol price hike.

“Access to the Internet has been limited as of last night and for the next 24 hours,” an informed source at the information and telecommunications ministry said, quoted by ISNA.

The decision was made by the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and communicated to Internet service providors overnight, the source added.

It came after state television accused “hostile media” of trying to use fake news and videos on social media to exaggerate the protests as “large and extensive.”

Netblocks, a website that monitors online services, said late Saturday the country was in the grip of an Internet shutdown.

“Confirmed: Iran is now in the midst of a near-total national Internet shutdown; realtime network data show connectivity at 7 percent of ordinary levels after twelve hours of progressive network disconnections,” it said on Twitter.

At least one person was killed and others injured during the demonstrations that started across the country on Friday night, Iranian media said.

The protests erupted hours after it was announced the price of petrol would be increased by 50 percent for the first 60 liters and 300 percent for anything above that each month.