A Pentagon spokesperson on Monday warned of a possible chemical attack by ISIS, and said that US and Iraqi forces must be prepared for it.
Islamic State militants are “dead set” on using chemical arms and are likely to try them again as Iraqi forces advance on Mosul, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday, a week after a rocket with a possible chemical agent landed near US troops.
The rocket fired on Tuesday by ISIS landed in an unpopulated area near Qayyara West base, several hundred yards from where hundreds of US troops are working to prepare an airfield for an Iraqi offensive to recapture the city of Mosul. No one was hurt in the attack.
ISIS HAS DONE IT MANY TIMES: PENTAGON
The shell initially tested positive for a mustard agent, but two subsequent tests have been inconclusive and the device is undergoing further tests, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.
“We fully recognize this is something that ISIS has done before. They’ve done it many times, at least a couple dozen that we know of where they have launched crude makeshift munitions that are filled with this mustard agent,” Davis said using an acronym for the group.
An air strike by the US-led military coalition destroyed an Islamic State chemical weapons factory on Friday near Qayyara, the second attack against a chemical arms facility this month.
Davis said ISIS’ ability to weaponize mustard agent has been rudimentary. The group typically uses a chemical powder bound together with oil, which leaves behind a telltale oil trace.
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US, IRAQ NEEDS TO BE PREPARED FOR THE CHEMICAL ATTACK
Even though Islamic State has not perfected the ability to weaponize chemicals, US and Iraqi forces still have to be prepared for a chemical attack, Davis said.
“We recognize this is real. They’re dead set on it. They would love to be able to use chemical weapons against us, against the Iraqis as they move forward,” Davis said. “We are making every effort to make sure that we’re ready for it.”
He said US troops deployed to the region have the training and equipment they need to defend against chemical attacks and are working to ensure the Iraqis are prepared and properly equipped as well.
Davis said the United States has provided more than 50,000 gas masks to Iraq, with about 40,000 going to Iraqi
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