Red Cross says chemical weapons used near Mosul
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Five children and two women are receiving treatment for exposure to chemical agents near the Iraqi city of Mosul, where the Islamic State group is fighting US-backed Iraqi forces, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.
The organisation said it did not know which side used the chemical agents that caused blisters, redness in the eyes, irritation, vomiting and coughing.
France 24’s Fenwick Gallagher said that Red Cross officials in Iraq told him that six of the patients are in a stable condition.
The United States has warned that the Islamic State group could use weapons containing sulfur mustard agents to repel the offensive on the northern Iraqi city.
ICRC medical teams were supporting local medical teams treating the seven patients, who were admitted over the past two days to Rozhawa hospital in Erbil, east of Mosul, the organisation said.
The ICRC had reinforced 13 medical centres in areas surrounding Mosul with capacity to treat gas attacks victims, ahead of the offensive that started in October.
“They’re afraid that this is going to be something that is going to be used in the near future – and to a greater extent – by the jihadists,” Gallagher said.
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.
Defeating the Islamic State group in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, over parts of Iraq and Syria.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)