File photo of Kurdish soldiers surveying the site of a bomb attack on a road between Mosul, Iraq, and the Syrian border in northern Iraq. Photo: Kurdistan Region Security Council.
BERLIN, Germany – The German military on Thursday confirmed a possible chemical weapons attack on Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers fighting the Islamic State group (ISIS).
The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq had asked for international help to determine whether chemical weapons had been used in an attack late Tuesday on the Peshmerga on the Makhmur front, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) southwest of Erbil.
There was a “possible chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish frontlines at sector six,” the German defense ministry said.
Muhammad Khoshawi, a Peshmerga commander, told Rudaw on Wednesday that a group of Western experts had arrived in the area to take samples and establish facts after a Tuesday night mortar attack on Kurdish positions in Makhmur, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) southwest of Erbil.
“Last night at least 45 mortar rounds were fired at our positions, which we believe were loaded with chemicals, since the wounds are different,” Khoshawi, whose forces patrol the area, had said.
Burn wounds on the bodies of a number of Peshmerga were examined by the experts and sent to a laboratory for further studies, according to Khoshawi.
He said Peshmerga forces in the area were instructed to use gas masks in case of mortar attacks until results are verified in the laboratory.
This spring, the Kurdish government informed its allies that Peshmerga forces were attacked with chlorine gas. Late last year, ISIS repotedly seized an Iraqi chemical weapons factory with about 2,500 rockets, containing the deadly nerve agent Sarin.
About 80 German soldiers are stationed in the Kurdistan Region to train the Peshmerga forces. Germany is one of the few countries supplying the Kurdish troops directly through Erbil and not through the Iraqi central government in Bagdad.
The German defense ministry said that there will be no changes for the mission in the Kurdistan Region. German soldiers will continue to train Peshmerga forces.