Date
17 January 2017
Dozens of Peshmerga fighters were reported to have suffered injuries consistent with a chemical attack while fighting Islamic State. Photo: Reuters
Dozens of Peshmerga fighters were reported to have suffered injuries consistent with a chemical attack while fighting Islamic State. Photo: Reuters

US says Islamic State may have used chemical weapons

Islamic State probably used banned chemical weapons against Kurdish forces in Iraq this week, according to senior US officials said.

The officials said the jihadist group could have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, whose government admitted to having large quantities in 2013 when it agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The group controls wide swaths of Syria, including an area near where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces stored chemical weapons, the newspaper said.

The attack in question took place late Wednesday, about 40 miles southwest of Erbil in northern Iraq.

A German Defense Ministry spokesman said about 60 Peshmerga fighters, who help protect Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, were reported to have suffered injuries to their throats consistent with a chemical attack while fighting Islamic State.

Mustard agent, first employed as a weapon in World War I, can cause painful burns and blisters, immobilizing those affected by it, but it is usually deadly only if used in large quantities, the newspaper said.

“These were apparently chemical weapons. What it was exactly we don’t know,” the German ministry spokesman said, adding that experts were sent to the scene to make an analysis.

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