Smoke rises into the sky of Mosul on Friday as the Iraqi forces are increasingly taking ground against the ISIS militants in western Mosul. Photo: AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye
NEW YORK– Iraq has “no evidence” that ISIS had used chemical weapons in Mosul, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations Mohamed Ali Alhakim told reporters on Friday.
Alhakim made the remarks as the UN Security Council was briefed on the situation of Mosul behind the closed doors.
Alhakim said that he talked to Iraqi officials from Baghdad on Friday midday, "there was really no evidence that Daesh has used this chemical weapon,” he said using Arabic name for the ISIS.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on March 3 that at least 12 people were been admitted to the hospital with symptoms indicating they were exposed to toxins from chemical weapons.
“During the past two days, the hospital has admitted five children and two women showing clinical symptoms consistent with an exposure to a blistering chemical agent,” Robert Mardini, Middle East director for the ICRC said then.
The ICRC subsequently tweeted that a total of 12 people had been admitted with similar symptoms to Rozhawa hospital in Erbil.
The president of the UN Security Council, currently held by Britain, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said that Iraq’s investigation into the use of the chemical weapon in Mosul was “ongoing”.
"We expressed concern over reports of possible use of chemical weapons by Daesh and we look forward to the results of Iraq's investigation into those allegations," Rycroft told reporters after the closed door meeting of the Security Council.
This comes as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also denied on Wednesday reports about the chemical attack in the northern city of Mosul. He called the reports as “wrong”.
“According to our information and our follow up, if ISIS were capable of using chemical weapons, they would have used it,” Abadi said in Sulaimani, “But according to our information, they do not have that capability to use it. And what happened actually is a mixture of smoke and gas, and not a chemical weapon. It has a very limited impact.”
ISIS has used chemical weapons on several occasions in the last two years, including against Peshmerga forces, wounding at least 200 Kurdish fighters. The group was developing the weapons in the chemistry labs of Mosul University, Iraq special forces discovered when they retook the campus in eastern Mosul earlier this year.