Kurdish forces ‘attacked with chemical weapons’

German defence ministry says German military trainers were unhurt in the attack

A member of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) mans a mounted machine gun in the Al-Nashwa neighbourhood in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakeh last month. Photograph: Getty Images

A member of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) mans a mounted machine gun in the Al-Nashwa neighbourhood in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakeh last month. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Kurdish forces in northern Iraq who are fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants were attacked with chemical weapons a few days ago, the German defense ministry said on Thursday.

“There was a chemical weapons attack” southwest of Erbil, a ministry spokesman told AFP, adding that some Kurdish fighters suffered respiratory problems while German military trainers were unhurt.

“American and Iraqi specialists from Baghdad are on their way to find out what happened,” added the spokesman.

Meanwhile in Turkey, Kurdish militants launched attacks on military outposts in the east of the country overnight and seven of their fighters were killed in ensuing clashes with security forces, the Turkish armed forces said.

The attacks are the latest in a recent surge of violence between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group which has undermined a near three-year-old peace process.

In the southeastern town of Silopi, near the borders with Iraq and Syria, PKK fighters opened fire with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades on a military base, triggering a firefight in which four militants were killed, the general staff of Turkey’s armed forces said in a statement.

The PKK also launched similar simultaneous attacks on Wednesday evening on a military base and police station in the town of Diyadin in Agri province, near the Iranian border, and three militants were killed in the subsequent clash, it said.

The ANF news agency, which is close to the PKK, said Turkish special forces had opened fire on nearby buildings after the Diyadin attack and that two youths aged 15 and 16 who worked in a nearby bakery were among the three people killed. The account could not immediately be verified.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Ankara launched a peace process with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012 and a ceasefire declared by him in 2013 had largely held until hositilies resumed last month.

AFP, Reuters