International humanitarian law contains basic principles and rules governing the use of weapons, which includes restricting or prohibiting the use of certain weapons. The ICRC plays a leading role in defining and developing this.
International humanitarian law aims to put an end to the suffering caused by armed conflicts and to that end, international humanitarian law defines both the conduct of combatants and the methods of war, including weapons.
The first regulations in this regard were the 1868 prohibition of explosive projectiles weighing less than 400 grams, and the 1899 prohibition of bullets that expand or flatten upon penetrating the human body. In 1925 governments signed the Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of toxic gases. The Geneva Protocols were amended by the adoption of the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993. These strengthened the 1925 Protocol by further prohibiting the development, production, possession, stockpiling, retention and transfer of biological and chemical weapons and demanding their destruction.
The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons also regulates the use of a number of conventional weapons, such as ammunition with fragments that cannot be detected by X-rays and blinding laser weapons, as well as restricting the use of incendiary weapons, mines, traps and other
devices. The Convention was also the first treaty to establish a framework for addressing the risks from unexploded ordnance abandoned in post-conflict situations.
The Chemical Weapons Convention – officially named the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development , Production , Stockpiling , Use and Destruction of Chemical Weapons – is an arms control treaty that prohibits the production of chemical weapons and their components. The treaty, which was facilitated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization headquartered in the Hague, Netherlands, entered into force in 1997 and prohibited the use and production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons.
Each chemical used for war purposes is a chemical weapon under this Treaty. All parties to the Convention are obliged to destroy all existing chemical weapons, overseen by the OPCW.
White phosphorous, derived from phosphate rocks, is a yellowish-white translucent waxy substance with a garlic –like odor. White phosphorous is a weapon that burns the human body down to the bones, depending on the distance of the person from the target. It irritates the trachea and lungs following inhalation, while long term exposure can cause clots in the mouth which leads to the rotting of the jawbone. White phosphorus reacts with oxygen very quickly, resulting in high-temperature incendiary gases and clouds of smoke. Dense white phosphorous is deposited in the soil or deep in rivers and seas and on marine organisms such as fish, which threatens the safety of the environment and humans.
There are suspicions that Turkish forces used chlorine gas in the city of Afrin and concerns have been raised that white phosphorous is currently using it in its attack on northeastern Syria, particularly in the cities of Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye). The state of Turkey does not give importance to international pressure and demonstrations that took place in hundreds of cities across northeastern Syria and Europe.
It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army used white phosphorous in the war launched on the Gaza Strip 2008-2009, although the 1980 Geneva Convention in prohibits the use of white phosphorous against civilian populations or against enemy combatants in areas inhabited by civilians, considering such use a war crime.
Turkey and internationally prohibited weapons
The New York Times reported that in September 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated “some have nuclear warhead missiles but they don’t want my country have such weapons, I reject this situation.” This statement was made in reference to the US nuclear weapons stored in the Incirlik base.
With his repressive and expansionist policy, Erdogan was determined to invade and occupy the city of Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye) and used heavy conventional weapons , including air strikes against the
population of the city. Because of this all human rights and humanitarian institutions, along with global public opinion, support the cause of the people in North and East Syria and stand against the brutality of the Turkish state. The international community must act urgently as the the civilians of Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye) are at risk of genocide by Erdogan.
The neighborhoods of Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye) were bombarded by air strikes and artillery rocket by Turkish forces, as well as the suspected use of white phosphorous in a way that is prohibited by international conventions. As a doctor at the hospital in the city of Hasakah stated, the Turkish occupation army appears to have used weapons in a way which violates international agreements.
The neighborhoods of Ras Al-Ain (Sere Kaniye) are subjected to aerial bombardment and artillery shelling by the Turkish army. The Turkish army and pro-terrorist factions prevented ambulances from entering the city to treat the wounded through targetting the entrance of the city with air strikes. A number of cases of burns were treated at the hostpital in the city of al-Hasakah, where the doctor Fares Hammo described how dozens have been injured, many very seriously, by the heavy weapons used in Turkish attacks.
Dr. Hammo said “in terms of civilian casualties we are seeing a lot of shrapnel and burns but recently there are some unfamiliar types of burn whose causes are unknown. We think that the Turkish state is using internationally prohibited weapons such as chemical weapons.” This link show a video from inside the hospital in the city of Hasaka.
Eight days after the commencement of attacks, the Public Relations Officer of the Syrian Democratic Forces Ridur Khalil said that Turkey is applying all of its military and technical capabilities to occupy the small town of Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye), and as a result of heavy losses suffered by the Turkish army and allied jihadist factions, the level of brutality has increased over
the past two days through continuous aerial bombardment and artillery around the clock. He said that there are concerns that the air raids use unconventional weapons because of the different symptoms of injuries on the bodies of the wounded, and he called upon relevant institutions and organizations to come to conduct laboratory tests in order to confirm.
This link shows the Turkish weapons and missiles used against civilians and children :
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Another child received abnormal burns through air strikes on residential neighborhoods.
The rules of public international law were established as a general basis for regulating relations between states and nations, in order to maintain international peace and security and to conduct relations without conflicts or wars. Therefore, branches of public international law were founded to regulate relations between states and nations. International human rights and humanitarian law, which is one of the most important branches of law, is concerned with the management of armed conflicts throughout the world, whether international or domestic, as well as organizing and defining its rules. This is supervised by the International Committee of the Red Cross which monitors the application of regulations and interprets them in the context of modern warfare.
International humanitarian law considers that a both signatories and non-signatories to international conventions of a humanitarian nature are bound by the rules of customary international law. All actors therefore bear responsibility for non-compliance and for acting withing the definition of aggression as approved by the United Nations resolution (3314), 14 December 1974, Article 1.
The use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence or other means of another state is in contradiction with the Charter of the United Nations. The use of armed force is an act of aggression by the state who initiates it.
The General Assembly resolution defines aggression as the use of armed force by a state against sovereign territorial integrity or against the political independence of another state or in any manner contrary to the Charter of the United Nations. The scope of the aerial bombardment and artillery shelling by the Turkish army and its collaborators from jihadist factions involved in the so called “Operation Peace Spring” can be considered an act of aggression by this definition. Turkey’s invasion killed more than 200 civilians, including children and elders, and destroyed many houses, shops, agricultural land and crops and vital civil infrastructure, as well as the ongoing looting and theft from houses. The areas that were subjected to heavy Turkish artillery shelling include Traba Sbiya (Al-Qahtaniya), Derik (Al-Malikiyah), Dirbesiye, Amude, Sere Kaniye (Ras Al-Ain) and its villages and Gire Spi (Tal Abbyad), Qamishlo (Qamishli), Kobani (Ain al-Arab), Ain Issa and the villages and countryside surrounding each of these metropolises. Sere Kaniye, Gire Spi and Ain Issa and the surrounding countryside were also subjected to air strikes.
The international community and the UN Commission on Human Rights must immediately intervene to stop this aggression and the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria, to establish humanitarian support for people who have been displaced from their homes, and take serious measures to stop the Turkish invasion and occupation.