Posted by: infideltaskforce | April 26, 2016

Report ISIS Is Using Chemical Weapons Against the Kurds. Why Won’t the U.S. Help?

ISIS Is Using Chemical Weapons Against the Kurds. Why Won’t the U.S. Help?

After Islamic State militants fired mortars this week at Kurdish military posts in northern Iraq, the Peshmerga fighters complained of nausea, vomiting, and a burning sensation in their eyes. Their symptoms reflected telltale reactions to sulfur mustard gas, a blistering agent that the Islamic State has been employing with increasing and alarming frequency on the battlefield.

The rise in chemical attacks by the Islamic State has prompted the Kurdish regional government to issue an urgent request to Washington and other Western capitals for thousands of gas masks. But Erbil is still waiting for most of the protective masks to arrive.

As America’s most effective ally in the campaign against the Islamic State group, Kurdish officials say privately they are puzzled by the delay, especially given the Kurdish people’s tragic experience as victims of chemical weapons.

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On March 16, 1988, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s military targeted the Kurdish town of Halabja near the Iranian border with the deadly nerve agent sarin and mustard gas, killing about 5,000 people and injuring thousands more. It remains the single worst chemical weapons attack on a civilian population in history.

Over the past year, Kurds have become reaquainted with the acrid smell of mustard gas. Hundreds of Kurdish troops and civilians have been injured in chemical attacks by the Islamic State and one 3-year-old child was killed in Taza in March, according to regional authorities.

Kurdish leaders and military officers say they need tens of thousands of gas masks for the 65,000 troops that are deployed in the fight against the Islamic State. So far, the Kurdish forces have 6,000 gas masks, including about 4,000 from the United States for two brigades being trained by American military advisers, said Brig. Gen. Hazhar Ismail of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

But the United States has promised an additional 5,000 masks and it’s not clear when those will be delivered, the general told Foreign Policy in an email.

Kurdish leaders believe the threat is mounting, especially as the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi government draws up plans for a crucial offensive this year to recapture the city of Mosul, where they fear the Islamic State could be prepared to launch larger-scale chemical weapons attacks.

“We are very concerned about ISIS using chemical weapons,” Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the representative for the Kurdish Regional Government in Washington, told Foreign Policy.

“They’re using them with increasing frequency, and increasing sophistication,” she said. The rising number of attacks represents “a clear warning that they intend to use them in the fight to liberate Mosul.”

The Kurdistan regional government’s deputy prime minister, Qubad Talabani, led a delegation to Washington last week and raised the issue in talks with Pentagon and State Department officials.

“We have been asking for the gas masks for some time,” Rahman said.

Read More HERE

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