Kurds claim IS group used chemical weapons
Kurdish authorities in Iraq said yesterday they have evidence that the Islamic State group used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against fighters, the latest alleged atrocity carried out by the extremist organisation now under attack in Tikrit.
The allegation by the Kurdistan Region Security Council, stemming from a January 23 suicide truck bomb attack in northern Iraq, did not immediately draw a reaction from the Islamic State group, which holds a third of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in its self-declared caliphate. However, Iraqi officials and Kurds fighting in Syria have made similar allegations about the militants using the low-grade chemical weapons against them.
In a statement, the council said the alleged chemical attack took place on a road between Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, and the Syrian border as peshmerga forces fought to seize a vital supply line used by the Sunni militants. It said its fighters later found "around 20 gas canisters" that had been loaded onto the truck involved in the attack.
Video provided by the council showed a truck racing down a road, white smoke pouring out of it as it came under heavy fire from peshmerga fighters. It later showed a white, billowing cloud after the truck exploded and the remnants of it scattered across a road.
In the meantime, Kurdish fighters and Christian militiamen are making gains against the Islamic State group in north eastern Syria with intense clashes amid air strikes by the United States-led coalition, an activist group and a Kurdish official said yesterday.
A defence official in Syria's Kurdish region said the fighters captured the Christian village of Tal Maghas in Hassakeh province, which had been under the control of Islamic State militants.
The official said air strikes by the US-led coalition, the first in the area in days, were targeting Islamic State positions near Tal Tamr village, about 10 kilometres west of Tal Maghas.