02/16/2016, 09.22
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Islamic State using chemical weapons in Iraq

Confirmed by experts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPAC). Traces of pyrite emerge from blood tests carried out on 35 Kurdish peshmerga. Material may be from Syrian army stocks taken by jihadists.


Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Islamic State militias "have used mustard gas" in at least one attack last year in Iraq. The confirmation comes from internal sources of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPAC), which speaks of "samples" which prove the use of pyrite, one of the most common gases used in chemical warfare.

According to experts of the international organization based in The Hague, in the Netherlands, the jihadists used mustard gas in an attack on the Kurdish militias; from samples taken in August from 35 sick Peshmerga soldiers in Erbil.

If confirmed, it would be the first recorded case of use of chemical weapons in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, in 2003; victims, in this case, the Kurdish militia also persecuted in the days of Saddam.

Mustard gas, which takes on a liquid state at room temperature, is a strong irritant, which causes severe damage to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and internal organs.

The OPAC experts have attributed the responsibility to the militias of the Islamic State. However, at the time the leaders of the Kurdish regional government had immediately denounced the jihadist attack by Daesh militiamen.

The peshmerga soldiers were stationed on the front line near the city of Makhmour and Gwer; at least 37 rockets exploded in the surrounding area, releasing "white powder and a black liquid ". Blood tests revealed "traces of mustard gas".

By the end of next month, the Executive Committee of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will analyze data from surveys and will try to explain how the Islamist militants have managed to obtain chemical weapons.

According to intelligence sources, the mustard gas could come from the Syrian army stocks that were dismantled following the agreement between the US and Russia in September 2013. The militiamen of the Islamic State came into possession of a small quantity of material, enough to produce "chlorine and mustard gas".

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