DUHOK – Amid continuous investigations on chemical attacks by the extremist group of Islamic State (ISIS), a United Nations official announced that the group has evidently manufactured and used chemical agents at least four times during attacks on Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq.
Several reports by Kurdish forces fighting ISIS indicated the group’s use of chemical weapons over the last few months, sparking an investigation by the U.S. and the U.N.
A U.N. official told the BBC that at least four ISIS-led attacks using powdered mustard agents have been documented on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border.
“We assess that they have an active chemical weapons little research cell that they’re working on to try and get better at it,” he said.
Activists reported that the radical group is most likely using stockpiles found in Syria and Iraq, after taking over large territories in both countries and establishing its alleged Caliphate.
In June, ISIS militants have reportedly used chemical weapons during attacks on headquarters of the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakah.
The YPG leadership said in a statement that ISIS terrorists used chemical weapons against positions of the Kurdish units south of Tel Brak (45 km eastern Hasakah) end of June, as well as against civilians in Salihiya neighborhood in Hasakah city.
The statement added that the Kurdish fighters were able to document the gas attacks through video tapes and testimonies of people that have been injured during the attacks.
“On June 28, a number of shells, which emitted yellow gas with a strongly rotten odor, dropped on Salihiya district in the city of Hasakah by the terrorist group. The toxic bombs turned into yellow color after exposure to sun, while liquid oily green spots were seen on ground,” according to the YPG General Command. “A number of our fighters were also exposed to sever burns and suffocation.”
In July, Kurdish forces of the YPG revealed they captured dozens of anti-gas masks from ISIS insurgents, which confirms they have been equipped for chemical warfare along battle’s front lines.
Local sources from Salihiya and al-Mufti districts in Hasakah told ARA News that more than 20 mortar shells hit their areas, causing suffocation among dozens of civilians.
A doctor from a field hospital in Hasakah told ARA News that the shells most likely contained mustard agents.
“Our hospital received many cases of suffocation,” the source said.
Describing an attack in August, a statement by the Peshmerga General Command in northern Iraq said: “Terrorists of Daesh (ISIS) launched 45 120mm-mortar shells tipped with chemical heads on Peshmerga positions, which led to the injury of a number of Peshmerga forces with burns on different parts of their bodies.”
Germany’s Defence Ministry, which had been training the Kurds near the sight of the attack in Makhmour, said at the time that fighters also suffered breathing difficulties and that officials had “indications that there was an attack with chemical weapons”.
The descriptions fit with the effects of mustard agents, which were initially used in chemical warfare during the First World War, and were deployed prolifically by Saddam Hussein’s regime in the Iran-Iraq war.
The U.S. National Security Council said last month that Washington was taking allegations of ISIS using chemical weapons very seriously and seeking more information.
“We continue to monitor these reports closely, and would further stress that any use of chemicals or biological material as a weapon is completely inconsistent with international standards and norms regarding such capabilities,” a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council said.
Reporting by: Eyaz Ciziri
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