The Islamic state has launched two chemical attacks near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, hurting about 600 people and causing many more to flee. The attack took the life of a toddler by the name of Fatima Wais, daughter of Sameer Wais, who is a member of the Shiite militia fighting ISIS in the area.
He was said to be on duty at the frontline when the attack took place early that morning. On learning what had taken place he quickly ran home and smelt the chemicals from the rocket. “We took her to the clinic and they said that she needed to go to a hospital in Kirkuk. And that’s what we did, we brought her here to the hospital in Kirkuk,” he explained. But there was still hope his daughter appeared to be doing better the next day, so they took her home. “But by midnight she started to get worse. Her face puffed up and her eyes bulged. Then she turned black and pieces of her skin started to come off,” he told the horrifying story. And alas, by next morning Fatima had succumbed to her injuries.
Separately, attacks across Baghdad on Saturday about 13 are said to be deceased and 27 are wounded. Homemade bombs were placed along the roads in the capital’s southern and eastern neighborhoods. There were no instant claims of responsibility, but ISIS often claims responsibility for bomb attacks targeting civilians. It underwent territorial losses in Iraq, most recently the city of Ramadi was declared “fully liberated” by Iraqi and U.S. officials last month. Since then, they have paced mutinous attacks in Baghdad and other parts far from the front lines.
Can Isis create chemical weapons?
Security and hospital officials said the latest attack took place early on Saturday in the small town of Taza. It was also struck by a bombardment of rockets carrying chemicals three days earlier. The hundreds of wounded are suffering from infected burns, suffocation and dehydration, told Helmi Hamdi, a nurse at the hospital in Taza. He said that eight people were moved to Baghdad for further treatment. “There is fear and panic among the women and children,” said Adel Hussein, a local official in Taza. “They’re calling for the central government to save them.” He also informed of the German and American forensics teams that arrived in the area to test for the presence of chemical agents. ISIS is assumed to a special unit for chemical weapons research, consisting of Iraqi scientists who worked under Saddam Hussein. They have created limited amounts of mustard gas. Tests have confirmed mustard gas being used in a town in Syria when ISIS attacked in August 2015. “What the Daesh terrorist gangs did in the city of Taza will not go unpunished,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi , with Daesh as a substitute acronym for the IS group on Saturday. “The perpetrators will pay dearly”, he added.
US and Iraqi officials said US special forces had captured the head of the IS unit trying to improve chemical weapons in a raid in northern Iraq last month. The US officials informed that the chemical ISIS had used so far included chlorine and low-grade sulfur mustard which was not very potent. “It’s a legitimate threat. It’s not a high threat. We’re not, frankly, losing too much sleep over it,” said U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren. Experts also said the extremist group seems incapable of launching a large-scale chemical weapons’ attack, as it requires not only proficiency, but also the proper tools, resources and a supply-chain to yield enough of the chemical agent to pose a threat. Two months ago the coalition started targeting IS’ laboratories and equipment with airstrikes and special operations raids, informed Iraqi intelligence officials and a Western security official in Baghdad. However, it has now been confirmed the chemical weapons were made and used by Isis itself.
Will Isis use chemical attacks as new strategy?
A former British army officer and chemical weapons expert Hamish De Bretton Gordon, said the use of chemical weapons by IS appears to be linked to fatalities on the frontline. “As they get more and more pushed, we’re seeing them use it more and more often,” he stated. “They are trying to prevent defeat.” The mustard gas that they use is not very toxic, but has a huge physiological impact that overshadows its physical impacts.” said Gordon.
In fact chemical weapons make crummy weapons of war. Logistically, not only are they difficult to transport and deploy, but an unforeseen gust of wind can render them impotent, or even fatal to the attacker. “It’s a fairly relatively ineffective as a weapon, though, because it’s very non-persistent, so you drop it, it goes up, disappears.” U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said on Friday.
This chemical warfare has caused the death of hundreds, wounded plenty more, but most bitterly it recently took the life of a three year old innocent girl. A child with no understanding of war succumbed to chemical injuries at home. Fatima’s father Sameer Wais said he was planning to return to the frontline with ISIS as soon as possible. “Now I will fight Daesh more than before, for Fatima.”