U.S. Bombs Islamic State Chemical Weapons Plant in Iraq

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) fighter jet drops a laser-guided bomb during its first guided weapons release test at Edwards Air Force Base, California October 29, 2013. REUTERS/US Navy/Handout via Reuters
US Navy/Handout

On Tuesday, the commander of the U.S. Air Force Central Command, Lt. General Jeffrey Harrigian, announced that a dozen American aircraft struck an Islamic State chemical weapons plant in Iraq.

Harrigian said the plant, a former pharmaceutical factory that ISIS was also using as a headquarters building in Iraq, was hit at 50 different points. Rudaw, the Kurdish news service, reports the operation included “fighter jets, ground-attack aircraft, and a B-52 bomber,” and the installation was destroyed.

Iraqi News cites a “well-placed source in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior” who said a “significant chemical threat to Iraqi civilians was eliminated by American warplanes.”

Rudaw quotes Harrigian saying the plant was probably making chlorine or mustard gas. Kurdish forces have reported attacks with such chemical weapons and complained they don’t have proper protective gear or medicine.

Harrigian said the Islamic State’s use of chemical weapons was another example of their “blatant disregard for international law and norms.”

CNN notes a year-long investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that both ISIS and the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad have used chemical weapons during the Syrian civil war. The report cited ISIS for using mustard gas.

When the chemical weapons report was released last month, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price vowed that the U.S. and its anti-ISIS coalition partners would put a “high priority” on targeting ISIS chemical weapons.

“We will continue to remove leaders from the battlefield with knowledge of these weapons and will target any related materials and attempts to manufacture such chemicals going forward,” Price said.


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