At least 25 Iraqi troops required treatment at a field clinic after ISIS struck a military unit with mustard agent on Sunday. None of the injuries were life-threatening. Six of the soldiers experienced respiratory difficulties and received care at a field clinic, according to Brigadier General Yahya Rasool. U.S. and Australian military advisers were situated near the site of the attack at the time but no coalition troops were injured.
The chemical weapons attack comes just one day after an ISIS gas attack targeting Iraqi troops in the al-Abar neighborhood of west Mosul. Backed by U.S. air support, Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers have been rooting out the last remaining holdouts of ISIS fighters in the last few weeks. To date, roughly half of west Mosul has been retaken (east Mosul was retaken by Iraqi forces in January). But liberating west Mosul, neighborhood by neighborhood, is an uphill battle. Suicide car bombings have been routine as Iraqi forces push forward into hostile territory.
Now, the men battling to win back their country from the stubborn grip of Islamic State must contend with chemical weapons.
Saturday’s attack in west Mosul apparently involved chlorine gas. “An officer with the antiterrorism forces said ISIS fired a rocket loaded with chlorine,” reports CBS News.
The first case of ISIS using chemical weapons was confirmed in October 2015.
“A confidential Oct. 29  report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a summary of which was shown to Reuters, concluded ‘with the utmost confidence that at least two people were exposed to sulfur mustard’ in the town of Marea, north of Aleppo, on Aug. 21 ,” reported Reuters. The “findings provide the first official confirmation of use of sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas, in Syria since it agreed to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, which included sulfur mustard.”
Since then, ISIS has been accused of deploying mustard gas on multiple occasions. Some attacks have even directly threatened American assets. In fact, a mustard attack in September 2016 forced U.S. troops to take precautionary measures in case they were exposed to the toxic chemical.
“US troops involved in the incident went through decontamination showers as a precaution,” reported CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. “No troops have shown any symptoms of exposure, such as skin blistering. CNN has reported on previous instances where ISIS has fired rounds with mustard agents in Iraq and Syria.”