ERBIL, Iraq, March 14 (UPI) — Iraqi Kurdistan leaders say Islamic State fighters employed chemical weapons against Kurdish peshmerga forces in a January bombing.
The Kurdistan Region Security Council issued a statement over the weekend claiming that lab tests confirm the presence of chlorine at the site where a suicide bomb was set off earlier this year.
“The analysis carried out at an EU-certified laboratory found the samples contained levels of chlorine that suggested the substance was used in weaponized form,” the statement reads, as reported by Turkish state news group Anadolu Agency.
The attack occurred on January 23 at Kiske Junction, a location between Mosul, Iraq, and the Syrian border. The explosion was set off inside a truck loaded with 20 gas canisters.
“In recent fighting around Tikrit, similar attacks have been recorded on video showing plumes of orange smoke, an indicator of the presence of chlorine, it appears as if (Daesh) use weaponized chlorine when they are suffering heavy defeats.”
Daesh is another name for the Islamic State, which also often called ISIS and ISIL.
Neither the use of chlorine nor Iraqi Kurdistan’s broader claims have been independently verified.
Iraqi fighters and Iran-backed Shia militia forces are currently battling IS for control of Tikrit, the Iraqi city some 86 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Reports earlier this week relayed stories of success, but their progress was reported to have stalled over the weekend as IS snipers and roadside bombs slowed the advance. Control of Tikrit is seen by IS’s enemies as key to recapturing Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.