Guerrilla doctor Dersim: "Turkish army clearly uses choking agents, mainly chlorine gas”

Dr Dersim, a guerrilla doctor, says there is concrete evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army: "The Turkish army is clearly using choking agents, mainly chlorine gas."

According to the People's Defence Forces (HPG), the Turkish army has used poison gas and unconventional bombs against the guerrillas in the Medya Defence Zones in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) well over 2,000 times this year alone. Footage of guerrilla fighters presumably dying from nerve gas has gone around the world. There are also repeated reports of the use of yellowish-green gas and images of yellowish-green residue have been published by the guerrillas. This also points to the use of the highly toxic gas chlorine. In an interview with ANF, Dr Serbilind Dersim, one of the guerrilla doctors, gave his impressions of the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army.

Why has the Turkish army been using chemical warfare agents so intensively for two years?

I would like to begin my remarks by remembering our friends who have lost their lives in the current phase of the war. I would like to respectfully commemorate all those who died, especially Baz Mordem and Helbest Koçerîn, as a result of the chemical weapons recently used by the Turkish army. At the same time, I respectfully salute the friends who, filled with Apoist sacrifice, are resisting the cruel attacks of the Turkish army in the tunnels of war.

As is known, we have been in an intense war with the Turkish army for 40 years. Especially in the last seven years, there has been a very intense, uninterrupted war. Especially in the last two years of this war, the defence against the chemical weapons used by the Turkish army against us has been central. We can say that the Turkish army is stuck in this war at all levels. It is experiencing defeat against the guerrillas and, therefore, it is resorting to chemical weapons. It is doing so because it has nothing else left.

The Turkish army does not hesitate to use these chemical weapons against our forces, against our friends. In doing so, they disregard international agreements and all humanistic values. In the last few years, they have been flying their much-vaunted armed drones over our forces around the clock, they have been firing missiles and bombs at us from their fighter jets and helicopters. At the same time, every day, at every hour, they are shelling the region with their tanks, artillery pieces and howitzers. As if that were not enough, they are also attacking our forces with ground troops and even with their "Bordeaux Berets" (special forces) and using mercenaries recruited from al-Nusra and ISIS in Syria. But none of this is of any use to them against our friends who are sacrificially resisting, not only resisting, but striking blow after blow at the enemy in mobile units with highly modern and professional guerrilla tactics. That is why they are resorting to chemical weapons.

Despite countless recordings, the Turkish state claims not to use chemical weapons. What do you say to this?

Unfortunately, 17 of our friends have been killed by the use of chemical weapons. When this became an issue, the Turkish state and media panicked and rushed to deny the use. They even tried to deny it on their own TV channels by some so-called experts. Discourses such as "The honourable Turkish army does not use chemical weapons" were pushed. To put it bluntly, for us it is not the point to talk about anyone's "honour", but there is neither an army nor an honour in this war. It is probably also not considered right that an army, which burns the bodies of its soldiers or throws them off cliffs so that they do not fall into the hands of the guerrillas, and even blows these bodies to pieces with its own planes so that there are no traces or evidence about the soldiers killed, should even mouth such words.

At the same time, statements such as "if the Turkish army used chemical weapons, they would wear protective suits" are spread. It must be clear that even soldiers carrying explosives, be it a grenade, an artillery shell or a mortar shell, do not have to be dressed like bomb disposal officers today. Why? This explosive has been encased and made into ammunition. It will only explode if activated by a detonator or trigger mechanism. Similarly, the Turkish army has packaged chemical weapons, made them into mortar shells, prepared them in the form of cylinders for use or processed them into ammunition. As long as these are not detonated with a detonator, the wearers do not need to wear protective clothing. This is already clear from the published images. They fill the war tunnels with poison gas by remotely detonating the munitions at the entrances to our tunnels.

In your experience, which chemical weapons are being used? What has been your experience with the guerrilla fighters you have treated?

According to the information we have received from the fighting areas and according to the treatment we have carried out on the friends who came from there, the Turkish army is clearly using choking agents. The most important of these is chlorine gas. The Turkish army itself produces chlorine gas on the battlefield. Chlorine gas is simply made from hydrochloric acid, which is used as a cleaning agent in many households. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach). When these two substances come together, chlorine gas, which is asphyxiating, irritant, harmful to eyes and respiratory system, is released, causing suffocation and death even in small doses.

There are thousands of cases of poisoning in Turkey because people have used chlorine bleach and hydrochloric acid to clean their homes. Everyone knows this very well. Why? These are materials used in daily life. The Turkish army says that there are no chemical weapons in its ammunition, in its inventory. But it produces chlorine gas itself in the war zone with the help of these chemicals. It even lays pipes to the mouth of the tunnels and pumps the chemicals into the tunnels. These are things that can be seen clearly on videos and are very clearly documented.

Obviously, the gas to which Şehîd Baz Mordem was exposed is such a gas. The irritation of our friend's lungs shows that he was exposed to this kind of suffocating gas. Due to the severe oedema in the lungs caused by the ruptures in the capillaries, a red, pink and brown liquid came out of our friend's mouth. This is clearly visible. It has been confirmed that this fluid did not come from the stomach but from the lungs. We can say that clearly.

At the same time, I would like to share with you some information about the gas that was used against Şehîd Helbest Koçerîn. The gas used there belongs to the narcotic gases from the class of capacity-reducing gases. There is a gas called "Buzz 15" with the code BZ. At the same time, it is about the drug LSD. (...) However, the conversion of LSD into a gas has very deadly consequences. This is one of the gases used against us. Of course, there are different types of anaesthetic gas, such as fentanyl derivatives. I don't want to go into too much technical detail, but what do these gases do? They render the person unconscious and unable to fight. In the case of our friend Helbest, it could be seen that she had been exposed to such a chemical. The friend seems to have fainted and hallucinated under the influence of the chemical. She reacts in a completely unusual way and experiences emotional disturbances such as extreme joy or extreme sadness. This is clear evidence that our friend was exposed to this type of anaesthetic gas.

What measures can be taken against the use of chemical weapons?

As already said, the Turkish army is trying to counter the guerrillas' determination with chemical weapons. It believes that it can only achieve results with chemical weapons. Of course, our friends have very limited means against this. We had problems with the arrangements in a few places. Unfortunately, this situation led to some casualties. However, despite the chemical weapons attacks, our friends continue their struggle by resisting the Turkish army and even pushing actions to break the attacks and inflict heavy losses on the enemy. The Turkish army is facing its final defeat. Of course, the Turkish army does not produce these chemical weapons on its own. It sources some of these chemicals from NATO countries. For example, it uses tear gas. In fact, this tear gas is a gas manufactured in Britain with the code CS. The gas is supplied to Turkey from there. The Turkish army, of course, has the full support of NATO. That is why the Turkish state can attack us so intensively.

What demands do you have on international organisations dealing with the use of chemical weapons?

Finally, I would like to note that in some publications or in the statements of some people who speak out against the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army, words like "if" or "I wonder" are used. There is no "if" and no uncertainty; the situation is clear. The use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army is clear and concretely proven by evidence. For this reason alone, we are inviting independent institutions and international organisations to our areas to conduct on-site inspections and prepare reports. HPG will provide all necessary support and facilities. That is why we are inviting them again. Let them come; let them conduct investigations in the battlefields, war tunnels and combat zones and make their findings available to the entire public.