The Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has been accused of carrying out a chemical attack in Mosul last week, which, if confirmed, would appear to be the first time it has used this tactic during its battle with Iraqi government forces to retake control of the city.
Iraqi Government and Humanitarians Should do More to Protect Civilians
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement that about twelve people, including women and children, were being treated for possible exposure to chemical weapons in a hospital in Erbil. While the ICRC stressed tests had not yet proved conclusive, it found the symptoms of the hospitalized patients suggested that they had been exposed to mustard agent. Iraqi authorities have said that ISIS was behind the attack.
The attacks caused painful burns to at least seven people that were consistent with exposure to a mustard agent also known as a “vesicant,” or blister agent, a chemical weapons expert told Human Rights Watch. In two other cases in March 2016, first responders told Human Rights Watch they witnessed at least two other chemical attacks targeting the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Peshmerga military forces in Taza Khurmatu, a town 100 kilometers south of Erbil. The perpetrators of those attacks have not been confirmed but witnesses believed them to be ISIS. ISIS Accused of Unleashing Chemical Weapons in Mosul | Human Rights Watch