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Iraq said to foil Islamic State chemical attack

Lawmaker says soldiers dismantled rockets bearing chlorine gas before they could be fired at civilians

This undated image posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, shows fighters from Islamic State during a parade in Raqqa, Syria (photo credit: AP)
This undated image posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, shows fighters from Islamic State during a parade in Raqqa, Syria (photo credit: AP)

An Iraqi lawmaker said Saturday that his country’s army had foiled a chemical attack by the Islamic State.

Soldiers dismantled seven chlorine gas-tipped rockets in the Diyala province, Foral al-Tamimi was quoted as saying in a report by the semi-official Iranian news site Press TV.

The rockets were to be fired at civilians in the predominantly Shiite city of Muqdadiyah, northwest of Baghdad, the report said.

In June, the Islamic State took control of a former chemical weapons facility in the area, where remnants of lethal chemical agents including sarin gas were kept.

Surveillance footage showed that some of the equipment had been looted, the Iranian report said.

At the time, the US expressed concern but also doubt as to whether IS had the capacity to weaponize the old chemical agents.

“We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site by the ISIL,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.

“We do not believe that the complex contains CW materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to safely move the materials,” she added.

Shiite Iran, which has been warily watching the lightning gains made by the Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces have carried out multiple chemical attacks against military and civilian targets.

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