IS Suspected of Using Mustard Gas in Iraq

IS Suspected of Using Mustard Gas in Iraq
IS Suspected of Using Mustard Gas in Iraq

Islamic State militants are suspected of using chemical weapons in an attack against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, officials said, the first indication the militant group has obtained a banned chemical weapon.

German officials said Kurdish troops suffered breathing difficulties after an attack near the city of Irbil earlier this week, BBC reported.

They did not say what may have been used. US officials told local media they believed it was mustard agent. IS has previously been accused of using chlorine gas against Kurdish fighters.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior US official on Thursday as saying the US has “credible information that the agent used in the attack was mustard.”

The paper did not specify where or when the attack occurred, or whether it caused casualties.

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein also used weapons such as mustard agent against the Kurds and against Iran. Mustard gas has been banned in war by the United Nations since 1993.

A US defense official said it was aware of the reports and was looking into them, adding, “It is plausible.”

Mustard agent, or sulfur mustard, more commonly referred to as mustard gas, causes blistering of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.

US intelligence agencies had said in the past they believed IS has used chlorine gas in attacks in Iraq, the journal reported. Chlorine is not a banned chemical agent.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters said they were made the target of a chemical attack on Tuesday, though they suggested they had been hit by rockets filled with chlorine gas and did not say anything about forbidden mustard gas.

The German Defense Ministry, which is helping to train Kurdish militia, said the US and Iraqi experts were on their way to the area “to find out what happened.”

A ministry statement said that about 60 Kurdish fighters had suffered breathing problems as a result of the attack.

“We have indications that there was an attack with chemical weapons,” a ministry spokesman said.

Kurdish security officials said the IS attack happened near the town of Makhmour, southwest of Irbil.

Earlier this year, the autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq said it had evidence that IS had used chlorine in a car bomb attack.

 IS Behind Baghdad Market Blast

IS claimed responsibility for a massive truck bomb attack in Baghdad that killed at least 67 people and left 200 injured on Thursday, police and sources said.

The attack on Thursday morning took place in a crowded vegetable market in Sadr City, a Shia district in the northeast of the Iraqi capital.

“A refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up inside Jamila Market at around 6 a.m. (local time),” police officer Muhsin al-Saedi said.

“Many people were killed and body parts were thrown on top of nearby buildings.”

IS released a statement online claiming the attack.

The attack was similar to an attack in the city of Baquba two days on Tuesday, which also killed dozens of people.