Kurdish forces allegedly hit by chemical arms

Kurdish forces battling ISIS allegedly attacked with chemical weapons according to German army

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Members of Peshmerga forces in Makhmur town, northern Iraq

The recent attacks in Makhmur on Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq are reportedly included chemical weapons.

The Peshmerga is currently battling the ISIS. The claimed chemical attack “could not be confirmed,” a German foreign ministry spokesman told Al Arabiya News on Thursday.

However, the German ministry did not deny that a chemical attack could have taken place.

"There was a chemical weapons attack" in southwest of Irbil, a ministry spokesman told AFP, and some Kurdish troops showed clear symptoms of agony unlike German military trainers who were unhurt.

The attack was carried out by an unidentified source but conducted by mortar or artillery shelling, the spokesman said.

"American and Iraqi specialists from Baghdad are on their way to find out what happened," he added.

"German soldiers were not affected or in danger," the spokesman said. "The protection of our soldiers in northern Iraq is already at the highest level."

The chemical used had characteristics and clinical effects "consistent with a chlorine chemical agent," the Conflict Armament Research group and Sahan Research group said

The group added that upon impact, the projectiles had released a yellow gas "with a strong smell of rotten onions."

No deaths were reported, but the troops who were exposed to the gas experienced burning of the throat, eyes and nose, severe headaches, muscle pain, vomiting and impaired concentration and mobility.

Late on Wednesday, Peshmerga officials told a Kurdish news site that a group of US and French experts had arrived in the area to investigate and examine the wounded troops suspected of falling victim to the chemical attack, sending samples of burn wounds to a laboratory for analysis.

“Last night at least 45 mortar rounds were fired at our positions, which we believe were loaded with chemicals, since the wounds are different,” Peshmerga commander Muhammad Khoshawi told Rudaw, the official news agency of the KRG.

Peshmerga troops in the area had been instructed to wear gas masks until the results of the samples are brought, Khoshawi added.  

Germany, along with the US and other European countries, have been supporting the Kurdish Peshmerga troops with military equipments and training since September to aid their fight against ISIS.

The ISIS has previously been accused of using chlorine in its attacks against the Kurdish forces in Iraq.

The Kurdish government controlling northern Iraq said in a statement in March that it had evidence that ISIS used chlorine in a car bomb attack on January 23.

Last month, the research groups said ISIS militants had also targeted Peshmerga forces with a projectile filled with an unknown chemical agent on June 21 or 22.

The organizations said they had also documented two similar assaults against the Kurdish groups as part of the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province on June 28.


TRTWorld and agencies