The Islamic State has reportedly started using chemical weapons against the people of Iraq. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, two chemical attacks launched by the Islamic State near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk has left one three-year-old child dead, and has injured more than 600 people. Several hundred people from the region were forced to flee the region following the chemical attacks, the report adds. The news of chemical weapons being used by the Islamic State was confirmed by senior Iraqi officials on Saturday.
The worst affected by the Islamic States’ chemical weapons was the small town of Taza which was hit by two chemical weapons – the first three days ago and the second one on Saturday, reports say.
Responding to the chemical attacks by the Islamic State, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said,
“What the Daesh terrorist gangs did in the city of Taza will not go unpunished. The perpetrators will pay dearly.”
The 3-year-old girl who was killed in the attacks has been identified as the daughter of a Shiite militant identified as Sameer Wais who was fighting the Islamic State in Kirkuk province. According to Wais, he was on the battlefield when he heard about the attack that occurred early in the morning. Sameer also said he could smell the chemicals that were used in the rocket that was launched by the Islamic State. The 3-year-old was rushed to a local clinic following the attack. However, the doctors there referred her to a hospital in Kirkuk for better treatment where her health showed signs of improvement after which she was taken home. By midnight next day, her condition took a turn for the worse and she never recovered.
“We took her to the clinic and they said that she needed to go to a hospital in Kirkuk. And that’s what we did, we brought her here to the hospital in Kirkuk. But by midnight she started to get worse. Her face puffed up and her eyes bulged. Then she turned black and pieces of her skin started to come off,” he said.
While the little girl was the only casualty that was reported from the region, several others have complained about infected burns, suffocation and dehydration. Eight people whose condition was reported to be serious were transferred to Baghdad for further treatment confirmed a nurse by the name of Helmi Hamdi. A team of German and American forensic scientists have visited the region to take stock of the situation and to analyze the chemicals used by the Islamic State, confirms Adel Hussein, a local government official.
“There is fear and panic among the women and children. They’re calling for the central government to save them.”
There were always fears about the Islamic State developing and using chemical weapons. It was just last month that a senior ISIS official who headed the chemical weapons development was captured by U.S. Special forces.
While it would take a comprehensive investigation to ascertain the chemicals used by the Islamic State in this attack, they have in the past used used chlorine and a low-grade sulfur mustard that according to U.S. military officials, is not very potent.
“It’s a legitimate threat. It’s not a high threat. We’re not, frankly, losing too much sleep over it,” U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters Friday.
However, many others are worried that the Islamic State might be working to develop weapons that could potentially result in a large scale chemical attack in the near future. In fact, sensing a threat from chemical weapons developed by the Islamic State, the coalition has already began operations that is targeting the ISIS’ chemical weapons infrastructure. Several operations and airstrikes undertaken over the past two months have reportedly targeted the the Islamic States’ chemical weapons development facilities, reports say.
[AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed]