ISIS may use chemical weapons in battle for Mosul

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ARA News

Erbil – The Islamic State (ISIS) may use chemical weapons to protect Mosul, its de facto Iraqi capital, according to military officers and local officials. 

Informed sources told ARA News that after seizing chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, ISIS militants moved some of the weapons to Mosul, in Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh Governorate.

Raafat al-Zarari, the head of the Nineveh Media Centre, said: “ISIS has brought several shipments of chemical weapons, particularly chlorine and mustard agents, to Mosul earlier this week.”

If the reports are accurate, they would impede the operation to retake Mosul, planned by the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Iraqi Army and the US-led coalition. The operation is expected to start within weeks.

“We may face a more complex situation in the battle for Mosul than expected,” a Kurdish Peshmerga official told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We are aware of ISIS moves in Mosul. The group has recently changed its main positions inside the city and installed new checkpoints in Mosul’s suburbs. The terrorist group is willing to put all of its strength in the upcoming battle for Mosul,” the Kurdish officer said. “Using chemical agents during the fight is highly possible, and we’ll make our preparations for such a scenario.”

Previous Chemical Attacks

ISIS has a long and lethal history of deploying chemical weapons against both military targets and civilian populations. That history was corroborated in a joint investigation conducted by the UN and a chemical weapons watchdog. ARA News has compiled a partial list of such attacks in Iraq and Syria. 

On September 21, ISIS militants hit an Iraqi Army base with shells that reportedly contained mustard agent.

On September 18, ISIS launched a chemical attack on the villages of Um Hosh and Herbel in Afrin District northwest of Aleppo city. Five civilians and three members of the pro-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were injured.

Medical personnel at Afrin Hospital, where the injured were taken, told ARA News that their patients suffered from suffocation. “The victims have been clearly exposed to a chemical gas attack.” 

On April 26, the SDF leadership confirmed that several shells containing chemicals had struck their positions in northeastern Syria. “ISIS terrorists pounded our fighters’ positions in the Taqa village near Shaddadi with mortar shells containing toxic chemicals. 15 fighters of the SDF have been injured and suffered suffocation by toxic gases,” the SDF Media Centre said. Medical personnel in Hasakah, confirmed that their patients had been exposed to a chemical agent.

On April 16, ISIS militants launched an offensive on positions held by the Kurdish Peshmerga, using rockets filled with chlorine gas. At least one fighter from the Kurdish Peshmerga forces was killed and four more wounded. Local activists confirmed that ISIS attacked the Peshmerga fighting in Makhmur District with chemical weapons that induced suffocation.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga Ministry in an August statement, said that blood tests have indicated the use of chemical agents against Kurdish forces. At least 35 Peshmerga soldiers have been exposed to mustard agent. Some of the injured soldiers were taken abroad for treatment.

Speaking to ARA News, Rezan Heddo, a member of the Syrian Democratic Council, said: “ISIS and other radical Islamist groups […] are in possession of chemical weapons. They have used those weapons in several attacks on populated areas.”

Reporting by: Sozbin Cheleng | Source: ARA News

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