Duhok – The Islamic State (ISIS) is conducting a “scorched earth” campaign in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, a UN official said on Friday.
According to the United Nations, a humanitarian crisis has broken out in Mosul city and other parts of Nineveh Governorate, as ISIS has fought to resist an ongoing offensive by US-backed Kurdish and Iraqi forces.
Humanitarian organizations warned that fumes from burning stockpiles of sulfur dioxide, and oil wells that have been set ablaze, have sickened civilians in northern Iraq and poisoned the environment.
“Due to the ISIS’ scorched earth policy, [Iraqi] civilians are experiencing near-suffocation and respiratory illnesses,” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said. The agency added that the release of deadly pollutants is adding “complexity and danger” to the humanitarian crisis in Mosul.
ISIS militants have reportedly set more than 15 oil wells on fire in the Qayyarah suburb, northeast of Mosul. “The burning of crude oil led to the release of toxic fumes and gasses, causing casualties among civilians as well as Iraqi forces,” Karrar al-Saadi, an Iraqi Army officer, told ARA News.
According to the UNEP, the burning crude is releasing a wide range of pollutants, including soot and gasses that cause skin irritation and shortness of breath.
In addition to the ruin being intentionally caused by ISIS, several disasters may have occurred accidently. On October 23, there was a chlorine gas leak in Mosul’s countryside, causing dozens of civilian casualties. The origin of the gas was determined to be a water plant that had been struck by errant fire.
Last week, a massive toxic cloud plume spread for dozens of kilometers after stockpiles of sulfur dioxide stored at the Mishraq Sulphate Factory caught fire. Over 1,000 cases of suffocation were reported in Qayyarah, Ijhala, and Makhmour.
Reporting by: Eyaz Ciziri | Source: ARA News & Agencies