By Debbie Gregory.
The Pentagon has dialed back assertions regarding allegations that ISIS used chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters, saying that the Defense Department is still investigating the matter and could not confirm ISIS’s capabilities.
The White House had previously announced that the United States was investigating whether the Islamic State used chemical weapons, most likely a mustard agent, against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. Test results from an ISIS attack in Hasakah, Syria, two weeks ago that confirm the terror group used a mustard agent as a weapon
Officials originally thought that ISIS may have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, whose government admitted to having large quantities in 2013 when it agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal. But an official said that the mustard agent used in Syria is more likely precursor chemicals, rather than a complex munition, a sign this did not come from a cache of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mustard agent, first employed as a weapon in World War I, can cause painful burns and blisters, immobilizing those affected by it, but it is usually deadly only if used in large quantities.
“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,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council.
On August 13th , Kurdish officials said their forces were attacked the day before near the town of Makhmour, not far from Irbil. The German Defense Ministry, whose military has been training the Kurds, said that approximately 60 Kurdish fighters suffered breathing difficulties from the attack, a telltale sign of chemical weapons use.
The use of mustard agent would mark an upgrade in ISIS’s battlefield capabilities, and would be very worrying, spiking fears that there could be hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said that if reports of chemical weapons are true, they would further prove that what ISIS calls warfare is really “just systematic attacks on civilians who don’t accord to their particularly perverse world view.”
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ISIS Using Chemical Weapons? Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory