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OPCW to probe whether Daesh used mustard gas in Iraq

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive their military vehicle after capturing several villages from the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group on the outskirts of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on September 30, 2015. (AFP)

An International team of investigators is set to travel to Iraq next week to find out whether the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has used banned chemical weapons against the country’s Kurdish fighters.

The team of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will determine whether the terror group fired mortar rounds containing sulfur mustard or commonly-known as mustard gas against Peshmerga fighters in August, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government had earlier issued a statement saying Daesh had used mustard gas against the Kurdish fighters in an attack southwest of the regional capital Erbil in August.

The statement, released on October 7, added that blood samples taken from approximately 35 Kurdish fighters along with an examination of injuries showed “signatures of sulfur mustard.”

Last month, Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service also said it had evidence that the Takfiri group had used mustard gas against the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

“Most probably it was mustard gas, but we want to make sure and we want to know where it came from because it is very difficult to get," a diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

An AFP photo shows the OPCW headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.

The OPCW team's mandate will be exclusively aimed at probing the single allegation of Daesh’s use of the chemical weapon in August.

Mustard gas, having few uses outside chemical warfare, can form large blisters on exposed skin and in the respiratory tract. It is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is an arms treaty intended to stop the use of chemical weapons.

Following the August reports concerning the use of the chemical agent by the Takfiri group, the OPCW expressed its deep concern over the issue.

“Recent reports of possible use of chemical weapons in Iraq by non-state actors are a matter of serious concern,” the world’s chemical watchdog said in a statement released on August 17.

The terrorist group is notorious for its barbarity, heinous atrocities and sacrilegious acts. The Takfiri militants have been accused of committing gross human rights violations and war crimes in areas they control, particularly in Libya, Syria, and Iraq.

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