Iraq/Kurdistan/Da’esh – Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State (IS) jihadists in northern Iraq have reported being attacked with chemical weapons in recent days, the German defence ministry said on the 13 Aug 15. The allegations, deemed "plausible" by a US official, follow claims in March by the autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq which said it had evidence that the jihadist group used chlorine in a car bomb attack on January 23. "We have indications that there was an attack with chemical weapons" against Kurdish Peshmerga fighters that left many suffering from "respiratory irritation", a German defence ministry spokesman said. A senior official from the Peshmerga said the attack happened this week and wounded several dozen fighters. "Last Tuesday afternoon, Peshmerga forces in the Makhmur area 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the city of Erbil were attacked with Katyusha rockets filled with chlorine," the Peshmerga official said on condition of anonymity. The defence ministry in Germany, which is providing arms and weapons training to the Kurdish forces, said that "American and Iraqi specialists from Baghdad are on their way to find out what happened". A ministry spokesman had said earlier "there was a chemical weapons attack" near Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region. A second ministry spokesman later stressed that German forces were not present during the attack, but that "we have indications that there was an attack with chemical weapons". Germany has been supporting Peshmerga fighters since September to back their push against IS jihadists, and currently has about 90 personnel on the ground. "German soldiers were not affected or in danger" during the reported attack, the spokesman said. "The protection of our soldiers in northern Iraq is already at the highest level." A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday that claims IS had used chemical weapons on the Kurds were "plausible". The Pentagon, meanwhile, said it was "seeking additional information" about the alleged attack. "We continue to take these and all allegations of chemical weapons use very seriously," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis. IS has previously been accused of using chlorine against Kurdish forces in Iraq. Along with the January attack, the Conflict Armament Research group and Sahan Research group said last month that IS had also targeted Peshmerga with a projectile filled with an unknown chemical agent on June 21 or 22. The chemical used had characteristics and clinical effects "consistent with a chlorine chemical agent", the groups said. The organisations said they had also documented two such attacks against Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units in Syria's north-eastern Hasakeh province on June 28. It said that upon impact, the projectiles had released a yellow gas "with a strong smell of rotten onions". There were no deaths but troops exposed to it had experienced burning of the throat, eyes and nose, severe headaches, muscle pain, impaired concentration and mobility, and vomiting. "Although these chemical attacks appear to be test cases, we expect IS construction skills to advance rapidly as they have for other IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," Emmanuel Deisser, managing director at Sahan Research, said at the time.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has no boundaries in terms of their war of terror, and using chemical weapons is one of the ultimate ways of spreading fear and panic among their enemies. We know that they have been trying to develop their own manufacturing programme in this regard, having recruited scientists and chemists in the two main cities that they control Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. They have already been using chlorine bombs since last year against the Iraqi Army, in the form of improvised roadside bombs. These contain chlorine in a liquid form that then vaporises when it is blown up. They are not actually very effective militarily, but they create a lot of fear and panic. It remains to be seen exactly what kind of chemical weapons might have been used in this latest attack on the Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers. One explanation is that it is chlorine again, but it could also be mustard gas, which would be potentially far more serious. Mustard gas is a proper, proscribed chemical weapon that is roughly 3,000 times more toxic than chlorine. There is speculation that the Islamic State got hold of supplies of mustard gas last year after they seized an old Saddam-era chemical weapons storage complex that was being guarded by the Iraqi army at al-Muthanna, about 45 miles west of Baghdad. It contained much of the remains of Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons stockpile, not all of which was destroyed after his fall. Destroying chemical weapons takes a long time; it is not just a question of putting it in a bonfire, so some of it was still being housed in a concrete bunker. The Islamic State may have got access to that bunker and located some intact supplies of mustard gas. One has to assume that the Islamic State will try to use chemical weapons in the UK, but the fact is that these kind of weapons don't travel very well. And while some jihadists will be equipped with the knowledge of how to manufacture some kind of bomb using industrial chemicals, I think Britons can rest assured that the police and security services are watching very closely for that kind of scenario.”
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon was commanding officer of the UK Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) used mustard agent in its fight against a Kurdish militia in Syria, testing has confirmed, a report in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph stated on the 15 Aug 15. Unnamed US government officials involved in investigating alleged chemical weapon use by ISIL in the north-eastern Syrian city of Hasakeh confirmed mustard gas had been used, according to the Washington Post and CNN. Mustard gas, used during World War One, can cause blisters, blindness and respiratory damage and is an internationally-banned chemical weapon. Last month, members of a Syrian Kurdish militia, the People's Defence Units or YPG, reported that projectiles fired by ISIL's jihadists had released "a yellow gas with a strong smell of onions." "The ground immediately around the impact sites was stained with an olive green liquid that turned to a golden yellow after exposure to sunshine," said a statement released by the YPG, which claimed soldiers exposed to the gas had experienced burning sensations, vomiting, and other symptoms indicative of a chemical weapon attack. Samples from the site were subsequently sent for analysis in the US and France. One official said 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 but was probably mixed by ISIL on its own, using agents or precursor chemicals it obtained. "The result of the test revealed they [ISIL] had used mustard gas,” said Brigadier General Sirwan Barzani, commanding officer of the Kurdish Peshmerga infantry division in the area. The attack adds to an increasing number of allegations of chemical use by ISIL. Since ISIL’s march through Iraq and Syria last year, monitoring groups have documented several instances in which the extremist group has used less lethal chlorine gas as a weapon of terror against Kurdish forces in Iraq, as well as military personnel.
Iraq – A car bomb at a popular auto dealership on the 15 Aug 15 killed 13 people and injured 52 in eastern Baghdad's volatile Sadr City neighborhood, where a market bombing two days earlier killed dozens. The Habibiya car dealership, widely-known for buying and selling used vehicles, has been targeted multiple times in the past. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the bombing in a communique distributed via affiliated Twitter accounts, saying the vehicle targeted a large gathering of the Iraqi army, federal police and government-backed Popular Mobilization Forces. A massive explosion in a Sadr City market on the 13 Aug 15 killed at least 67 people and wounded more than 100. The bombing, claimed by ISIS, was one of the worst single-day attacks in Baghdad in a decade. Elsewhere in and around the capital, a series of bombings killed at least nine people and wounded 33. The largest took place in the town of Madain, just south of Baghdad, when a bomb tore through a popular market killing three people and wounding 10. In the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, a bomb hit a row of auto repair shops, killing two people and injuring eight. In Baghdad's al-Askan district, an improvised explosive device detonated on a busy commercial street, killing at least two people and wounding eight. And in Baghdad's south-eastern suburb of Jisr Diyala, police said two were killed and seven wounded when a bomb exploded on a commercial street. 361 COMMENT: Reports are that Iraqi forces are making headway in Anbar Province. Although some of the smaller devices that have been detonated will be part of a campaign the larger devices are probably carried out to divert troops from the Anbar operation. The large explosive device in Sadre City which is home to many Shiites is an attempt to upset sectarian feelings of those in the city and those who are fighting on the side of the Iraqi troops in Anbar. As the Iraqi troops and Shiite affiliated militias continue their fight to rid Islamic State (Da’esh) militants from the areas of Ramadi and Fallujah there will be probably more attempts to destabilise the coalition fighting IS: COMMENT ENDS
Saudi Arabia – The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a mosque in southwest Saudi Arabia that killed at least 15 people, the group said in a statement on the 6 Aug 15. One of its fighters wearing an explosive belt triggered the blast, the ISIL statement said. The blast, which was triggered by a suicide bomber, killed 15 people at a mosque inside a Special Forces headquarters in Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that 10 of those killed were members of the country’s security forces. The Interior Ministry spokesman, Major General Mansour al-Turki, said on Thursday that the “terrorist” attack took place during noon prayers in the city of Abha, in the southern province of Asir. Mr al-Takur said that nine other people were wounded in the attack, three of them seriously. He further said that the bomb targeted police trainees as they were in the middle of prayer. Twelve of those killed were members of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, while the other three were workers at the compound, officials said. ISIL’s local affiliate had claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in recent months, including various deadly shootings and smaller attacks against police at checkpoints in the capital, Riyadh. Thursday’s attack was the deadliest against Saudi security forces since ISIL attacks began in the kingdom in 2014. In Nov 14 a gunman opened fire at a mosque in the eastern Saudi village of al-Ahsa, killing eight. A suicide bomber that struck a Shia mosque in the eastern village of Qudeeh in May 15 killed 22 people. That was the deadliest such assault in Saudi Arabia in more than a decade. A week later, a suicide bombing outside another eastern Shia mosque left four people dead. Saudi authorities in Jul 15 announced the arrest of more than 400 suspects in an anti-terrorism sweep. They said that they thwarted other ISIL attacks being plotted in the oil-rich kingdom, including a suicide bomb plot targeting a large mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia that could hold 3,000 worshippers and attempts to attack other mosques, diplomatic missions and security bodies.
The Islamic State group has released an audio recording purporting to feature the suicide bomber who killed 15 people at a police compound mosque in Saudi Arabia. The audio, along with a photo of the suicide bomber identified as Abu Sinan al-Najdi, was posted late on the 7 Aug 15 on IS-affiliated Twitter accounts. The speaker on the recording vowed more attacks, saying Saudi rulers and troops "will not enjoy peace" for taking part in the U.S.-led coalition battling IS in Iraq and Syria. He urged other militants to carry out suicide bombings, saying explosive belts are more effective than firearms. The attack in Abha on the 6 Aug was one of the deadliest against Saudi Arabia's security personnel in years. Most of the victims were members and recruits of the kingdom's Special Forces