Pindostan & Iraq Trying to Quash Coverage of Daesh CW Attacks
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Apr 19 2017
Repeated reports of chemical weapons attacks by Daesh in Mosul have gone barely commented upon by Pindosi and Iraqi officials, and in many cases denied outright, which Kurdish officials say is part of a quash any major coverage of the multiple gas attacks in the past week, and any reports of casualties resulting from them. The official responses to every chemical attack by Daesh has claimed them to be “ineffective,” or “low-grade,” and Iraqi PM Abadi insisted the chemical attacks were a myth, shrugging the incidents all off as smoke. Iraqi intelligence sources essentially confirmed this as a specific policy of denial by the governments, saying that the current priority is to maintain the morale of the soldiers invading Mosul. Confirming that chemical weapons were being used against those troops would make their open-ended offensive harder to sustain. Kurdish forces have been much more forthcoming about the chemical attacks they’ve come under, with a lot of reports of people injured by exposure to chlorine gas. Though indications are that similar accounts exist within the Iraqi military, policy appears to be such that such reports are being kept from the public.
Daesh touts CW attacks, but Iraqis & Pindos play it down
Hollie McKay, Fox News, Apr 19 2017
Daesh may be on the brink of defeat in Mosul, but it isn’t giving in without a bloody and blistering pushback. More than two dozen Iraqis stationed with Pindo and Australian military advisers in the Mosul vicinity required treatment after being hit Sunday by a chlorine gas attack. A day earlier, seven Iraqi soldiers were documented to have been injured in a similar attack in the Abar neighborhood of western Mosul. However, one Iraqi soldier positioned around the Mosul attack site dismissed the latest incidents as “not a big deal” and insisted that there has been no significant fallout. Iraqi Maj-Gen Alasady denied accounts of a chemical assault, telling reporters:
There was no use of chemicals in recent days. Daesh is just publicizing the use of toxic materials to rally its own troops after an onslaught of deaths and defeats.
Furthermore, a Pindo spox Operation Inherent Resolve told Fox News:
The coalition is aware of reports of low-grade chemical attacks on our partnered forces. These attacks were largely ineffective and further display the desperation of Daesh as they seek to hold an untenable position in Mosul.
Accounts of chemical attacks early last month were also extinguished by the top brass. Iraqi UN ambassador Alhakim said there was “no evidence” of chemical warfare. Iraqi PM Abadi flatly denied the chemical allegations as “wrong,” stating:
What happened actually was just a mixture of smoke and gas with a limited impact.
Others remain skeptical. One Kurdish official expressed concern that facts and figures are being obscured, saying:
Multiple gas attacks did take place over the past week, and the military casualties are not known, because coverage on the issue is being squashed.
Tony Schiena of MOSAIC Intelligence, which has long operated in the region, affirmed that chemicals were deployed this past week, saying:
Daesh continues to use chemical weapons, and since the recent use of sarin in Syria, it has spurred Daesh to increase their use of it. Chlorine is easily obtainable, created and stored. They have mustard gas stockpiled, as well as radioactive material that can cause cell phones to go haywire when brought close to it. It would glow on the ground as well as on the bodies of the affected soldiers.
So is there anything to the discrepancies? A source connected to Iraqi intelligence told Fox News:
What is of paramount importance right now is simply maintaining the psychological state of the soldiers.
Nonetheless, there is no denying that chemical weapons have become something of a staple in Daesh’s devastating arsenal. According to IHS Conflict Monitor. Daesh used sulfur and chlorin– at least 52 times in Syria and Iraq since the battle began. A number of airstrikes have targeted supposed chemical weapons depots and manufacturing facilities. One female Daesh operative captured and imprisoned by Kurdish authorities for treating wounded Daesh fighters at a hospital in her home city of Qayarra, told Fox News that a brick factory and smaller dwellings scattered near that hospital had become known hubs for chemical weapons manufacturing. Luqman Ibrahim, battalion leader of the Yazidi forces in the Sinjar Mountain region, also explained that several types of chloride bombs had been used. He said those bombs wounded more than 50 of his men over the course of the long battle. The bombs were of various types. Daesh had used sophisticated Russian-made bombs, ones developed by Iraqi Ba’ath Army officials, and two types of homemade chloride bombs. One type is a rocket that disseminates the synthetic agent; another is a chloride-filled rocket with a propane gas can attached. For Karwan Said, a 37-year-old Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was one of the very first victims of an Daesh chemical attack, those agents will forever haunt. Stationed just outside Mosul in Jul 2015. Contorting with agitation as if he was a prisoner inside his own gnawing flesh, Said recounted:
I went to inspect a Katyusha rocket that had fallen a little way in front of us, but I did not know of the chemical element attached. My eyes keep swelling up, and I have skin rashes that soap won’t cleanse. I can’t sleep. I am allergic to everything. And there is nothing to make this go away.
Iraqi unit with Pindo & Australian advisers hit by Daesh CW
Shawn Snow, Military Times, Apr 19 2017
Twenty five Iraqi soldiers required medical treatment after their unit was hit with a mustard agent fired from an ISIS rocket on Sunday, according to CBS News. Their unit included American and Australian advisers, none of whom were reported injured in the attack. Maj-Gen J Martin, commanding land forces in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, said:
Daesh has used chemicals in the vicinity of Mosul. They have had no impact on Iraqi security forces, and no impact on our forces.
Six Iraqi soldiers were also treated for breathing problems at a nearby field clinic, Iraqi Brig-Gen Y Rasul told AP. Pindo boxtops in Baghdad declined to comment on whether Pindo & Australian advisers were treated for exposure to the chemical agent, or whether they were present when the attack occurred. Martin said:
We share the same risks as Iraqi forces. We are forward with the Iraqis.
He said the chemical weapon attack was delivered by indirect fire, and Iraqi security forces were in the vicinity of one of the strikes. The chemical attack by Daesh is the second of its kind over the last few days as Iraq forces struggle to liberate the denser western side of Mosul. The first attack occurred on Saturday in the Abar neighborhood of western Mosul. Seven Iraqi soldiers were injured in the attack, according to AP. Officials in Baghdad downplayed the threat of ISIS CW capabilities. Martin said:
The attacks have used all low-grade chemicals, because Daesh has a low production capability.
Items exposed to the chemical attack have been sent back for further testing. Iraqi Army officials told CBS News that protective masks have been distributed to protect forces operating in the area. Pindo troops in Iraq already have all the appropriate equipment to operate in a contaminated environment, and are capable of assisting Iraqi forces with further training in protecting their forces from chemical attacks, according to Martin. The incidents are not the first known suspected chemical attacks carried out by Daesh in Iraq. Last March, Kurdish officials claimed Peshmerga forces were injured from a chlorine gas attack when a Daesh suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with gas canisters. Peshmerga forces near the scene of the incident complained of symptoms associated with chlorine gas including nausea, vomiting, dizziness and weakness, according to al-Jazeera. Daesh were suspected of firing nearly 40 chlorine-filled rockets at the town of Taza in March, which injured nearly 800 people and killed one. In January, when Iraqi forces retook Mosul University, they found chemistry labs they believed had been turned into makeshift chemical weapons labs. As Iraqi forces continue to push into western Mosul, fighting has become fiercer and the pace of operations has slowed to a crawl. Martin said:
We are likely to see more atrocities from Daesh as it becomes more desperate.
Eastern Mosul was liberated in January, and has not seen an attack since operations in west Mosul began on Feb 19.