Bracing for chemical weapons use in Mosul


Geneva—International aid groups including the Red Cross said Tuesday they were preparing for the possible use of chemical weapons in the battle for the Iraq city of Mosul. Iraqi forces backed by an international coalition are making gains in their advance on the city, the last major urban centre in Iraq under the Islamic State (IS) group’s control. There have been warnings the battle to take Mosul will be a long, bloody affair, with the jihadists expected to fight back with hit-and-run tactics, snipers, booby traps and and trenches. Robert Mardini of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) Near and Middle East division warned: “We cannot exclude the use… of chemical weapons.” He told reporters the ICRC was preparing by training healthcare workers and providing equipment to health facilities around Mosul “that would be able to absorb the cases of people contaminated and offer decontamination.” “As we speak, we have a team in Iraq liaising with the health authorities and working hand-in-hand with health personnel in Iraq in order to develop this response capacity,” he said. Thomas Lothar Weiss, who heads the International Organization for Migration’s Iraq mission, also voiced fears that chemical weapons might be used in Mosul, pointing to recent reports IS had used them nearby against Kurdish peshmerga forces. “We also fear, and there has been some evidence that ISIL might be using chemical weapons,” he told the Geneva news conference, via phone link from Baghdad, using another acronym for IS.—AFP