ISIS or the Islamic State tried to detonate a chemical bomb, Iraqi Kurdish authorities have claimed.
Islamic State used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against us, Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq have claimed. Though the attack is said to have happened in January, the Kurds needed to forensically confirm the same, before going public.
In a statement released to reporters, the Iraqi Security Council of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region said that the Islamic State had attempted to execute a car bomb. Driven by an Islamic State fighter, a “large vehicle” was attempting to break the stronghold the Kurdish authorities had managed to gain over a highly critical stretch of highway between Mosul and the Syrian border.
The statement mentions that Kurdish authorities fired a rocket at the vehicle, thereby “rendering it immobile.” Except for the suspected bomber, there were no casualties. However, a dozen peshmerga experienced nausea, dizziness, or weakness immediately after the vehicle blew-up, prompting authorities to suspect the vehicle was carrying chemical weapons.
After analyzing soil and clothing samples, the Kurdish authorities are confident the Islamic State has resorted to using chlorine gas.
“Lab analysis showed the samples contained levels of chlorine that suggested the substance was used in weaponized form.”
The statement categorically mentions that the analysis was carried out in an EU-certified laboratory after the soil and samples were sent by the Kurdish Regional Government to a “partner nation” in the U.S.-led coalition that is fighting militants in Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi Kurds are no strangers to chemical weapons. They have experienced the horrors of chemical weapons during former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime. Saddam’s air force had air-dropped dirty bombs on the town of Halabja in 1988, gassing at least 5,000 people to death.
Though no international organization has documented the use of chemical weapons on Iraqi territory by the Islamic State group, the Kurdish authorities maintain that the soil and clothing analysis report is ample proof that they are being used. Chlorine is prohibited under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits all use of toxic agents on the battlefield.
Recently, the Islamic State had seized outdated, but still possibly effective chemical weapons in Libya. However, experts believe the terror organization had confiscated unconfirmed quantities of sarin and mustard gas. If that’s true, it is unclear why the Islamic State used chlorine gas.
An OPCW mission had recently discovered that Chlorine gas was widely used in the civil war in Syria. Perhaps the Islamic State managed to seize some unused cache of chemical weapons that had the deadly chlorine gas in weaponized form.
[Image Credit | Fabian Bimmer/Reuters]