ISIS may have used chemical weapons against Kurds in Kobane canton in July

Huffington Post reports: The Islamic State militant group may possess chemical weapons that it has already used to extend its self-proclaimed caliphate, according to photos taken by Kurdish activists and examined by Israeli researchers.

The group, making gains in Iraq and Syria, may have captured chemical agents in Iraq in June and used them in July to kill three Kurdish fighters in the strategically important region of Kobani in northwest Syria, according to suggests a report released Sunday by the Global Research in International Affairs Center, a branch of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.

If verified, Islamic State’s possession of unconventional weapons could make international efforts against it more urgent, and bolster claims that the world has not responded quickly or powerfully enough to the threat. The group, also known as ISIS, has intensified its effort to conquer Kobani over the past month, and battles there have attracted global attention as the region’s defenders — both Kurds and U.S.-backed rebels — have urged international help.

Jonathan Spyer, author of the report, uses photographic evidence provided by Kurds in Kobani and a 2007 CIA report about the Iraqi chemical weapons production facility captured by ISIS in July to suggest that “on at least one occasion, Islamic State forces did employ some form of chemical agent, acquired from somewhere, against the [Syrian Kurdish forces] in Kobani.” He said Israeli chemical weapons experts examined the Kurds’ photographs. In response to questions from The Huffington Post, he declined to give their names.

“The probable possession by the Islamic State of a [chemical weapons] capability is for obvious reasons a matter of the gravest concern, and should be the urgent subject of further attention and investigation,” Spyer says.

The report accuses the Islamic State of using chemical weapons in a July 12 battle in an eastern part of Kobani during a previous offensive into the Kurdish enclave. The site of the battle is now controlled by ISIS. Spyer cites signs of a chemical weapons attack mentioned by the health minister of Kobani to the Lebanese online news outlet Al-Modon four days after the attack. In Spyer’s telling, the minister said that the corpses of three Kurdish fighters exhibited “burns and white spots … [that] indicated the use of chemicals, which led to deaths without any visible wounds or external bleeding.” The bodies had not been hit by bullets, the minister added.

Spyer’s report includes gruesome photographs of the bodies now circulating on social media alongside appeals for more help for the Syrian Kurds in Kobani.

In emails to The Huffington Post, Spyer said he had been given the pictures by Kurds in Kobani, whose identities he could not reveal. He said he takes them seriously because they were provided to him weeks ago — not to boost the case for international help to Kobani, but to spur an investigation by international authorities. [Continue reading…]

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