Forces of the Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) have launched at least three chemical attacks on the Iraqi town of Qayyarah, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The use of toxic chemicals as a means of warfare is a serious threat to civilians and combatants in and around the embattled city of Mosul and is a war crime.
The attacks hit the town of Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, in September and October after Iraqi government forces retook the town on August 25, 2016.
The attacks caused painful burns to at least seven people consistent with exposure to low levels of a chemical warfare agent known as “vesicants,” or blister agents, a chemical weapons expert told Human Rights Watch.
Lama Fakih, HRW deputy Middle East director, said:
“ISIS attacks using toxic chemicals show a brutal disregard for human life and the laws of war.
“As ISIS fighters flee, they have been repeatedly attacking and endangering the civilians they left behind, increasing concerns for residents of Mosul and other contested areas.”
Iraqi and Kudistan Regional Government forces, supported by a United States-led coalition, have been moving up the Tigris River, retaking towns and villages from ISIS. The Qayyarah attacks preceded the military operations that began on October 17 to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
(Source: Human Rights Watch)