American and Kurdish officers have said they expect the Islamic State (ISIS) to employ crude chemical weapons in the battle for Mosul.
US officials said in a previously undisclosed document that they had confirmed the presence of a sulfur mustard agent on ISIS munitions back in early October. Reuters, an international news agency, reported in September that US forces had been gathering and testing ISIS shell fragments because of the groups past use of mustard gas.
The American document dovetails with reports revived by ARA News. Those reports said that after seizing chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, ISIS militants moved some of the weapons to Mosul, in Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh Governorate.
Raafat al-Zarari, the head of the Nineveh Media Centre, said: “ISIS has brought several shipments of chemical weapons, particularly chlorine and mustard agents, to Mosul.”
The introduction of mustard gas into Mosul’s sprawling urban districts would cause burning, blindness, and difficulty breathing. While ISIS jihadists could retreat into their labyrinthine tunnel network, there would be no escape for the besieged civilians.
Iraqi Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati told reporters, at a military base on Tuesday, that up to 6,000 ISIS jihadists were currently inside the Mosul city. Up to 1.5 million civilians are thought to be alongside them.
If the reports are accurate, they would impede the operation to retake Mosul, being conducted by the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Iraqi Army and the US-led coalition
“We may face a more complex situation in the battle for Mosul than expected,” a Kurdish Peshmerga officer told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We are aware of ISIS moves in Mosul. […] The terrorist group is willing to put all of its strength in the upcoming battle for Mosul,” the Kurdish officer said. “Using chemical agents during the fight is highly possible, and we’ll make our preparations for such a scenario.”
Reporting by: Sozbin Cheleng | Source: ARA News & Agencies
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