Twelve people, including women and children, are being treated for possible exposure to chemical weapons agents in Mosul, where the Islamic State group is fighting off an offensive by US-backed Iraqi forces, an United Nations agency said on Saturday.
The UN's World Health Organization (WHO) said all 12 patients had been received since March 1 for treatment which they are undergoing in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, east of Mosul.
Four of them are showing "severe signs associated with exposure to a blister agent", the WHO said in a statement Saturday. The patients were exposed to the chemical agents in eastern Mosul.
"The missile was loaded with a black substance, something dark,” Wissam Arif Rasheed, a resident of east Mosul receiving treatment, told FRANCE 24. “The smell of it was unbearable and then my skin turned yellow."
An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Friday report on the attacks Friday did not say which side had used the chemical agents.
However, Brigadier Geneneral Wathaq al-Hamdani, Nineveh province's police chief, said that the Islamic State group targeted the Al Jazair District in western Mosul with "Katyusha launchers with missiles carrying chlorine gas" in at least two separate incidents over the past few days. He added that five civilians had been taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for asphyxiation.
FRANCE 24’s Gallagher Fenwick said it was not the first time that the IS group has been accused of carrying out chemical attacks.
“Iraqi troops have accused the Islamic State organisation of having used chlorine gas in the past and so have Kurdish peshmerga fighters,” Fenwick said Friday.
The United Nations is warning that the alleged use of chemical weapons in Mosul, if confirmed, would be a serious violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime.
Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris River on February 19.
The eastern side remains within reach of the militants' rockets and mortar shells.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)
Date created : 2017-03-04