Kurds Accuse Turks of Dropping Napalm
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted an extraordinary balancing act when asked about the current Turkey-Kurdish conflict in Afrin. While recognizing Turkey’s “legitimate right to protect its own citizens,” he also commended the “multiethnic group of fighters who are defending their home territory.” Undoubtedly, he was referring to the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia, called the People’s Protection Units, which have been our invaluable ally in the fight against ISIS.
Just prior to his statements, Kurdish officials publicly accused Turkey of indiscriminately dropping napalm shells in and around Afrin in an assault ironically titled “Operation Olive Branch.” Syrian-Kurdish politician Îlham Ehmed put out several tweets, claiming, among other things, that the Turkish army used “forbidden weapons” in Afrin against civilians. The Turkish military quickly denied the accusations.
Napalm—the “forbidden weapon” in question—is a highly flammable, jelly-like substance used in incendiary bombs. It is highly stable and can be stored for long periods of time without significant breakdown, making it a uniquely useful incendiary agent. It became a well-known weapon during the Vietnam War, when the infamous Napalm Girl image emerged.
There has been no verification of whether napalm was used. Still, the fierce battle wages on, with both Turkey and the Kurds claiming victory.