Did ISIS use mustard gas from Iraq in assault on Kobani in July?

Did ISIS use mustard gas from Iraq in assault on Kobani in July?

[Ed. – Syria produces mustard gas too, and has for some time.  But given ISIS’s geographic holdings as of July 2014 — which did not include Syria’s known production site — it may well be more likely that mustard gas used by ISIS was from Saddam-era production in Iraq — whether ISIS laid hands on it in Iraq, or in Syria.]

Prior to the current campaign, the most serious (but unsuccessful) attempt to conquer Kobani came in July 2014, shortly following the dramatic IS advance into Iraq.

It was during this assault on Kobani that evidence emerged which appeared to point to the use by the Islamic State on at least one occasion of some kind of chemical agent against the Kurdish fighters of the YPG (Peoples’ Protection Units).

The July offensive commenced on July 2nd.  According to Kurdish activists, the use of the chemical agent took place on July 12th, in the village of Avdiko, in the eastern part of the Kobani enclave (now in IS hands.) …

[T]he bodies of [Kurdish] fighters…appear to indicate the use of some form of chemical agent, probably mustard (blister agent)…

A CIA report from 2007…notes that “The precursor and agent production area at Al Muthanna [Iraq] was not completely destroyed during Desert Storm. Portions of the mustard (blister agent) production and storage area survived. The VX and Tabun production (nerve agent) facilities were incapacitated.”

The report further observes that “ISG is unable to unambiguously determine the complete fate of old munitions, materials, and chemicals produced and stored there. The matter is further complicated by the looting and razing done by the Iraqis.” …

Stockpiles of chemical munitions are still stored there. The most dangerous ones have been declared to the UN and are sealed in bunkers. Although declared, the bunkers contents have yet to be confirmed. …

So the CIA report confirms that al-Muthanna was used for the production of chemical weaponry including mustard agent.  The report also confirms that investigations have been unable to ‘unambiguously determine’ the fate of munitions at the site, and that while stockpiles clearly are stored at the site, the precise nature of these stockpiles remains unconfirmed.  There are no indications that this situation has changed in the period since the report.

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