Mil­i­tants fire chem­i­cal at­tack

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY CARLO MUNOZ

Is­lamic State fight­ers launched a chem­i­cal at­tack against ad­vanc­ing Iraqi se­cu­rity forces in the be­sieged city of Mo­sul, in­jur­ing a num­ber of lo­cal troops amid heavy fight­ing, the se­nior U.S. ground com­man­der con­firmed Wed­nes­day.

The at­tack, which took place this week in the lib­er­ated por­tion of the city, ended with sev­eral mem­bers of the tar­geted Iraqi unit exposed to a low-grade chem­i­cal agent, sim­i­lar to the ma­te­rial used in ear­lier chem­i­cal strikes against coali­tion forces, said Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin.

Iraqi and coali­tion forces pushed Is­lamic State from the city’s west side in Jan­uary.

Coali­tion forces are still con­duct­ing tests on the mor­tar rounds laced with the chem­i­cal agent fired at Iraqi forces, to de­ter­mine what spe­cific agent was used in the at­tack, Gen. Martin said dur­ing a tele­con­fer­ence from Baghdad. “We don’t know what we will find” af­ter the tests, he was fairly con­fi­dent the ma­te­rial was a mus­tard gas-type weapon used in by Is­lamic State.

He de­clined to com­ment whether Amer­i­can and Aus­tralian mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers who were at­tached to the Iraqi unit had been in­jured dur­ing the at­tack. “We have not con­firmed ex­po­sure at this time,” he told re­porters at the Pen­tagon.

ISIS has launched 52 chem­i­cal strikes against coali­tion forces in Iraq and Syria, the Lon­don-based IHS con­flict mon­i­tor said in a re­port pub­lished late last year. Of those 52 at­tacks, 19 were car­ried out in and around Mo­sul, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

U.S. of­fi­cials ini­tially re­ported a mor­tar strike in Septem­ber near U.S. po­si­tions in the vicin­ity of a mil­i­tary air­field in the western part of al Qay­yara, about 40 miles south of Mo­sul, had shown ev­i­dence of a chem­i­cal agent akin to mus­tard gas. How­ever, sub­se­quent tests for mus­tard gas agents by coali­tion of­fi­cials proved in­con­clu­sive.

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