Islamic State May Have Used Chemical Weapons on Kurds, Israeli Experts Say

Images taken by activists in Kobani show 'burns and white spots' on Kurdish fighters' bodies that Israeli researchers say suggest use of mustard gas.

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Rabia Ali, right, and her son Ali Mehmud, mourn at the grave of her son Seydo Mehmud 'Curo,' a Kurdish fighter killed in battle with Islamic State militants.
Rabia Ali, right, and her son Ali Mehmud, mourn at the grave of her son Seydo Mehmud 'Curo,' a Kurdish fighter killed in battle with Islamic State militants.Credit: AP

Photographs taken by activists in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani and examined by Israeli researchers appear to prove that Islamic State militants possess chemical weapons and may have used them.

Kurdish activists claim that Islamic State fighters used chemical agents in the village of Avdiko on July 12, according to a report in the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, which is published by the Global Research in International Affairs Center, a branch of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

Nisan Ahmed, the Kurdish authority health minister in Kobani, appointed a medical team to examine fighters' bodies, the report said. They found no bullet wounds, but rather "burns and white spots" on the dead fighters' bodies that indicated the use of chemical weapons

MERIA gained exclusive access to the photos and Israeli experts who have seen them believe they point to "the use of some form of chemical agent, probably mustard [gas]," the report said. However, the experts said, that is impossible to confirm without further investigation.

Over the summer, Islamic State fighters took control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where remnants of 2,500 degraded chemical rockets filled decades ago with the deadly nerve agent sarin were stored along with other chemical warfare agents, Iraq said at the time.

The U.S. government had played down the threat from the takeover, saying there were no intact chemical weapons and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to use the material for military purposes.

Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters were able to halt the advance of Islamic State in the Syrian border town of Kobani, where the U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes for more than two weeks, activists said Sunday.

The coalition, which is targeting the militants in and around Kobani, conducted at least two airstrikes Sunday on the town, according to an AP journalist. The U.S. Central Command said warplanes from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates conducted four airstrikes in Syria on Saturday and Sunday, including three in Kobani that destroyed an IS fighting position and staging area.

The Syrian Kurdish enclave has been the scene of heavy fighting since late last month, with the heavily armed Islamic State fighters determined to capture the border post and deal a symbolic blow to the coalition air campaign.

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