According to a recent report published in the journal Middle East Review of International Affairs, or MERIA, militants of the Islamic State group used chemical weapons, including mustard gas, against Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Kobani during their first attempt to capture the town in July.
The report, which is based on testimonies from eyewitnesses on the ground, said that the chemical weapons had been transferred to the Syrian province of Raqqa from a Saddam Hussein-era chemical weapons facility located near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The report has prompted fears that ISIS could have access to vast stockpiles of chemical weapons, including sarin, mustard gas, and VX, a nerve agent.
In June, reports emerged that the Islamic State group had captured a chemical weapons facility in the city of Muthanna, located 45 miles northwest of Baghdad. At the time, the United States government said it did not believe that the complex, which was considered to be one of Saddam Hussein’s most important chemical weapons facility, built during Iraq’s war with Iran in the early 1980s, contained “Chemical Weapons materials of military value.”
However, according to a report published by The New York Times on Tuesday, the U.S. military not only recovered massive stockpiles of chemical weapons in Iraq, including in the complex in Muthanna now controlled by ISIS, it actively attempted to keep the discovery of the munitions a secret. The report, which is based on interviews with several former U.S. army personnel, alleged that between 2004 and 2010, soldiers found thousands of rusty and corroded chemical munitions.