ISIS low-grade chemical attack hits Iraqi military unit with Australian advisers

By @mik_mapa on
iraqi soldier
Iraqi special forces soldiers walk in a street in Mosul, Iraq, March 4, 2017. Picture taken March 4, 2017. Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

Islamic State has attacked an Iraqi military unit in west Mosul. A defence official said that U.S. and Australian advisers were with the unit during the chemical attack. The advisers were medically screened and the results showed no signs of exposure.

According to the U.S. Government, the chemical used was classified as low-grade. There were no updates on the type of chemical but it was believed that ISIS have access to chlorine and mustard gas. The defence officials described the chemical weapons as rudimentary.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said that six soldiers suffered breathing problems from the attack and were treated at a field clinic.  Two anonymous army officers said that masks and other equipment have been distributed in case of future gas attacks.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed the attack and said that there were no Australian troops injured. "My advice right at the moment is no Australian troops were affected but Australian forces did provide assistance following the attack. That's my current advice received in last few minutes," Turnbull said in a radio interview.

The Pentagon described in a statement that the attack was largely ineffective. The government said that it further displayed the desperation of ISIS as they seek to hold an untenable position in Mosul. Over the weekend, there were reports of two separate gas attacks but it was not clear if the Australian advisers were affected in either of the two attacks.

An Iraq Joint Operation Command spokesman said that ISIS has attacked government troops with some type of gas in western Mosul. It was a day after militants launched a gas attack in the neighbourhood of western Mosul's al-Abar.

In 2015, protection against chemical weapon attacks for Australian Defence Force was boosted. Defence chief air marshal Mark Binskin said that it was an emerging threat against Australian forces at the time that ISIS used limited chemical weapons including chlorine and mustard gas.

ISIS fighters battle to fight the broader threat of terrorism in Mosul. The Iraqi government has regained the eastern half of the city but it took them three months to regain control. There were thousands of troops that were killed and injured while civilians became human shields of the Islamic State fighters. In March, the Iraqi troops recaptured the main government buildings in West Mosul and claimed that around 30 percent of the west of the northern Iraqi city was in the troops' possession.

ISIS suspected of carrying out chemical attack in Iraq

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