U.S. Air Base in Iraq hit with mustard gas after major air strike destroys chemical weapons facility near Mosul.
|Islamic State (IS) militants may have fired a chemical rocket at U.S. troops in Iraq at the Qayyarah Air Base, which is south of Mosul.
No soldiers were injured or have displayed symptoms.
U.S. troops went to inspect the shell after it landed. Noticing a substance described as “tar-like” “black” and “oily,” the soldiers had it chemically analyzed. While the shell tested positive for a mustard agent, officials categorized it as “low grade” and “ineffective.”
In sufficient quantities, mustard agents can maim and kill by damaging skin, eyes, and airways.
Soldiers involved in testing the shell underwent decontamination showers.
In the fight against IS there has been 20 documented cases of chemical agents being used against Kurdish forces, but this is the first documented case of an attack using chemical weapons on U.S. forces in Iraq.
Just over a week ago, USAF Central Command reportedly struck and destroyed a chemical weapons facility in Iraq near Mosul, on September 12th in a major air operation. In the attack, four F-15Es, assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, led US CENTCOM aircraft, including F-16s, F-18Ds, A-10s, and B-52s, 12 aircraft in all, destroying over 50 targets. Lieutenant-General Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of USAF Central Command, said the facility had been converted for production of “chlorine or mustard gas — we don’t know for sure at this point.”
USAF Central Command provided the following video:
Lima Charlie previously reported on ISIL’s use of nerve gas on retreating Syrian forces back in June.
Nerve gas is considerably more lethal than mustard gas, or variations of chlorine gas, first developed by the German Army in WWI.
Reports of ISIS deploying chemical weapons are not new. Just several days ago, BBC news producer Riam Dalati posted a video of what appeared to be two civilian casualties of a mustard gas attack in Aleppo:
— Riam Dalati (@Dalatrm) September 18, 2016
Nearly 5,000 U.S. troops are currently in Iraq. As ISIS gives up more ground to advancing U.S. coalition and Russian/Syrian forces, there is heightened concern that it will resort to desperate measures, increasing the likelihood of deploying chemical weapons.
J David Thompson (US Army) is a Juris Doctor candidate at Washington & Lee University School of Law focusing on International Human Rights Law. He is a Veterans in Global Leadership Fellow, and brings experience on human rights, international relations, strengthening civil society, refugee issues, interagency collaboration, and countering violent extremism. Prior to Washington & Lee, he served in the US Army as a Military Police officer and Special Operations Civil Affairs with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and one to Jordan—receiving a Bronze Star amongst other decorations. In Jordan, David worked at the US Embassy in countering violent extremism, strengthening civil society, and refugee response with other United States Government organizations, the United Nations, and various non-governmental organizations.
Follow David on Twitter | @JDThompsonLC
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