Burns on Peshmerga wounded earlier this week are consistent with mustard gas.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Test on Friday proved that ISIS has used mustard gas against Kurdish forces over the last two days on the Gwer- Makhmur front, the area's commander told Rudaw.
“The result of the test revealed they [ISIS] has used mustard gas,” Brigadier General Sirwan Barzani, commanding officer of the infantry division in the area said Friday.
Barzani said a mortar barrage late Wednesday carried a gas his fighters had not seen before in ISIS attacks. He said the Peshmerga affected by the chemical agent had breathing problems and skin injuries consistent with mustard gas.
Based on this, Barzani said tests were carried out by experts from one of the countries that belongs to the international coalition to fight the Islamic State, or ISIS. Earlier, Barzani had said a team of US and French experts had collected samples to explain what could have caused the burns and respiratory issues.
The injured soldiers were reportedly transferred to a hospital in Erbil, less than 40km from the frontline.
US officials had earlier announced an investigation into whether ISIS had used chemical weapons against Kurdish forces after a report was broadcast by Rudaw TV and the ENEX media network.
Also, earlier this week, the Ministry of Peshmerga instructed its forces in Makhmour to use gas masks in case of mortar-launched chemical attacks.
Many of the villages neighboring Makhmour, some only 5km away, have been under ISIS control since August last year when the group swept through much of western Iraq.
Kurdish commanders say the jihadists use the villages to mont attacks on Peshmarga positions.
With the presence of mustard gas now established, Kurdish and foreign experts are left to wonder how ISIS gained possession of it.
US-based CNN quoted experts as speculating the gas came from old chemical weapons caches in Iraq or Syria that the US was unaware of.
Mustard gas, or sulfur mustard, has been classified as a chemical warfare agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The gas was invented and gained infamy in World War I and was prohibited by international treaty in 1993.
Mustard gas is not usually fatal, but can cause blisters on the skin, eye injuries, blindness and severe respiratory problems.
The agent was developed during World War I and was banned by treaty in 1993. While it is usually not fatal, according to the CDC, it can cause blistering of the skin, eye pain and blindness, as well as respiratory problems.