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."


Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

Updated 06 June 2020

Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

  • New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths
  • Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing

DUBAI: A wedding party contributed to a new surge in coronavirus infections in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday but insisted the country had no option but to keep its economy open despite warnings of a second wave of the epidemic.
Iran, which has been gradually relaxing its lockdown since mid-April, has reported a sharp rise of new daily infections in recent days. Thursday’s toll of 3,574 new cases was the highest since February, when the outbreak was first reported.
“At one location, we witnessed a peak in this epidemic, the source of which was a wedding that caused problems for the people, health workers and losses to the economy and the country’s health system,” Rouhani said on state TV. He did not say when or where the wedding took place.
New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths.
Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing. One official said about 70% of the new cases in Tehran were among those who had traveled outside the capital in recent days.
Iran has been struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19 but authorities are concerned that measures to limit public and economic life to contain the virus could wreck an already economy already reeling under international sanctions.
“In these circumstances, we have no other choice — that is, there is no second option,” Rouhani added. “We have to work, our factories have to be active, our shops have to be open, and there has to be movement in the country as far as it is necessary.”
Iranian universities reopened on Saturday after being closed for more than three and a half months, state media reported. Nurseries will reopen in a week’s time, when Qur'an and languages classes will also resume, Rouhani said.