Isil used chemical weapons against Kurds in Iraq, say German troops
German troops involved in a coalition training mission in Iraq have reported that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) fighters have used chemical weapons on a Kurdish militia.
The German commanders, who have been mentoring the Kurds on Isil’s front lines in northern Iraq, sent an urgent message to the German defence ministry in Berlin after hearing that the Kurds had been attacked on Wednesday. The Kurdish fighters, whose militia is known as the Peshmerga, told the Germans that some had suffered severe burns to their bodies, while others had difficulty breathing.
US and French chemical weapons specialists arrived in the area on Thursday to take samples and determine whether chemical weapons had indeed been used.There have been repeated claims of Isil using chlorine gas in attacks in Iraq in recent weeks, raising fears that jihadists could also dispatch fighters to carry out chemical attacks in Europe. The latest incident took place on Kurdish positions near the town of Makhmur, some 22 miles south-west of Erbil.
“The terrorist Daesh [Isil] launched 45 120mm mortar shells tipped with chemical heads on Peshmerga positions, which led to the injury of a number of Peshmerga forces with burns on different parts of their bodies,” the Peshmerga General Command said in an official statement.
This had led to “the arrival of a joint American and French military team at the site of the incident to commence an investigation into the type of material used”.
Some 90 German soldiers are stationed in Erbil on a mission to train Peshmerga troops in the use of sophisticated weapons. German troops stationed nearby believe the attack is consistent with the use of chemical-tipped mortar or artillery shells.
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Their commanders sent a report on the attack to Berlin on Wednesday evening, which was taken seriously enough to be taken directly to the defence minister, according to Bild newspaper.