UN: Mosul Chemical Attack Would Amount to War Crime

Civilians fleeing MosulCivilians fleeing Mosul

The United Nations warned that the alleged use of chemical weapons in Mosul, if confirmed, would be a war crime and a serious violation of international humanitarian law, according to a statement released Saturday.

“This is horrible,” Lise Grande, the humanitarian coordinator in Iraq said in the statement. “There is never justification—none whatsoever—for the use of chemical weapons,” CBC reported.

The alleged attack occurred this week in eastern Mosul, an area declared fully liberated by Iraqi forces in January. The attack hit a neighborhood along the Tigris River, which roughly divides the city in two. Some civilians fleeing Mosul were exposed to chlorine gas.

Doctors in an urgent care hospital in the nearby city of Irbil say they began receiving patients showing symptoms of chemical weapons exposure on Thursday.

The UN’s World Health Organization has activated with partners and local health authorities “an emergency response plan to safely treat men, women and children who may be exposed to the highly toxic chemical”, the agency said in a statement.

The self-style Islamic State terrorist group has used chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria at least 52 times, according to a report published late last year by IHS conflict monitor, a London-based research and intelligence gathering group.

The report said at least 19 of the 52 attacks took place in and around Mosul.

Iraqi and US-led coalition officials have repeatedly expressed concern regarding IS chemical weapons attacks. However, IS-claimed insurgent attacks in Iraq and attacks targeting civilians attempting to flee Mosul cause far greater numbers of injuries and deaths to civilians.

The US-led coalition campaign of airstrikes has also resulted in civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure. Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria between November and January killed 19 civilians and wounded two, according to a statement from the Pentagon on Saturday.

The report brings the total number of civilian casualties acknowledged by the coalition to at least 220, according to the Pentagon.

Independent monitoring organizations put the number of civilian casualties much higher.

London-based Airwars estimates the minimum number of civilian casualties caused by airstrikes to be at least 2,463.


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