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The United States has provided more than 50,000 gas masks to Iraq, with about 40,000 going to Iraqi security forces.
The United States has provided more than 50,000 gas masks to Iraq, with about 40,000 going to Iraqi security forces.

IS Determined to Use Chemical Arms as Iraqi Forces Advance

IS Determined to Use Chemical Arms as Iraqi Forces Advance

The self-styled Islamic State terrorists are “dead set” on using chemical arms and will likely try them again as Iraqi forces advance on Mosul, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday, a week after a rocket with a possible chemical agent landed near US troops.
The rocket fired on Tuesday landed in an unpopulated area near Qayyara West base, several hundred yards from where hundreds of US troops are working to prepare an airfield for an Iraqi offensive to recapture the city of Mosul. No one was hurt in the attack, Reuters reported.
“The shell initially tested positive for a mustard agent, but two subsequent tests have been inconclusive and the device is undergoing further tests,” Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.
“We fully recognize this is something that ISIL has done before. They’ve done it many times, at least a couple dozen that we know of where they have launched crude makeshift munitions that are filled with this mustard agent,” Davis added, using another acronym for the group.
An airstrike by the US-led military coalition destroyed an IS chemical weapons factory on Friday near Qayyara, the second attack against a chemical arms facility this month.
Davis said IS’s ability to weaponize mustard agent has been rudimentary. The group typically uses a chemical powder bound together with oil, which leaves behind a telltale oil trace.
“It’s not generally in a lethal concentration. It’s more of an irritant than anything else, but again, not something we view as militarily significant,” he said, noting that the gas form of mustard agent used in the First World War was far more lethal.
The Pentagon spokesman said even though IS has not perfected the ability to weaponize chemicals, US and Iraqi forces still have to be prepared for a chemical attack.
“We recognize this is real. They’re dead set on it. They would love to be able to use chemical weapons against us, against the Iraqis as they move forward,” Davis said. “We are making every effort to make sure that we’re ready for it.”
Davis said US troops deployed to the region have the training and equipment they need to defend against chemical attacks and are working to ensure the Iraqis are prepared and properly equipped as well.
“The United States has provided more than 50,000 gas masks to Iraq, with about 40,000 going to Iraqi security forces,” he said.

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