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Kurdish forces say IS fired chemical weapons at them

Officials say jihadist group used chlorine-laden mortar shells in assault on peshmerga troops near Iraqi town of Sinjar

Illustrative photo: This image, from a video posted on September 18, 2013, shows Syrians in protective suits and gas masks conducting a drill on how to treat casualties of a chemical weapons attack, in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)
Illustrative photo: This image, from a video posted on September 18, 2013, shows Syrians in protective suits and gas masks conducting a drill on how to treat casualties of a chemical weapons attack, in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)

A Kurdish military officer and a medical official said Thursday that Islamic State militants had fired mortar shells believed to have been filled with a chemical substance, possibly chlorine, at Kurdish troops close to the Iraqi town of Sinjar, wounding 30 fighters.

Dr. Afrasiab Mussa Yones, director of Dohuk hospital, told The Associated Press that nine Kurdish soldiers were admitted with symptoms including vomiting, nausea, shortness of breath and itching.

Yones says that further analysis is required, but the symptoms suggest chlorine was used.

Col. Lukhman Kulli Ibrahim said that he lost consciousness when the mortar struck on Friday. He struggled to breathe and he felt his eyes and chest were burning.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has confirmed that IS used mustard gas on Kurdish forces last August.

Alleged victim of chemical weapons attack on Homs, December 23rd 2012. (screen capture: Youtube/xmanw2011)
Illustrative photo of a victim of an alleged chemical weapons attack on Homs, Syria, December 23, 2012 (screen capture: YouTube)

Last week, US national intelligence director James Clapper told a congressional committee that IS had used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including sulfur mustard.

Clapper said it was the first time an extremist group had produced and used a chemical warfare agent in an attack since Japan’s Aum Supreme Truth cult carried out a deadly sarin attack during rush hour in the Tokyo subway in 1995.

President Bashar Assad’s regime and rebel forces have accused each other of using chemical agents in the nearly five-year war that has killed more than 250,000 people.

After an August 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus that much of the international community blamed on Assad’s government, the regime agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal.

OPCW, which oversaw the dangerous removal and elimination of Syria’s avowed stockpile, now says that it has been completely destroyed. But the global arms watchdog has still warned of the continued use of mustard, sarin and chlorine gas in the conflict.

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