Evidence Shows ISIS has Fired Chemical Mortar Shells
Evidence by field investigators comprising of Kurdish officials and Western ordnance disposal technicians reveal that the Islamic State appears to have manufactured and used rudimentary chemical warfare shells on Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria about three times in the recent weeks. The investigators came to this conclusion after examining the incidents whereby they discovered one of the shells.
The development, which the investigators said included the use of toxic industrial and agricultural chemicals as weapons, showed a potential escalation of the IS’s capabilities, though it was entirely unexpected.
For more than a decade now, Sunni militants in Iraq have occasionally used chlorine or old chemical warfare shells in makeshift bombs against American and Iraqi government forces. All Kurdish fighters have raised concerns that militants linked to the ISIS, used chlorine-based chemicals in at least one suicide truck bombs in Iraq, this year.
However, it is believed that the militant group has devised a new plan of attacks by firing chemical mortar shells from long distances as opposed to dispersing rudimentary chemicals via trucks or stationary targets. This presents a new technical challenge that munitions manufacturers have to strive to overcome.
Having been globally condemned and banned in most parts of the world, chemical weapons are often less lethal compared to conventional munitions, including when used in improvised ways. However, they are indiscriminate and almost impossible to defend without specialized equipment. This makes the weapons ideal for impacting psychological and political effects.
The investigators also revealed that recently, a 120-milimeter chemical mortar shell hit sandbag fortifications at Kurdish military position near Mosul Dam on June 21 or 22. During the incident, all the Kurdish militants who were present at the site where the weapon landed fell ill.
However, the shell did not explode and was recovered almost intact on June 29 by Gregory Robin, a former French military ordnance disposal technician who now works for Saharan Research. Mr. Robin said that the tail of the shell had been broken and was leaking a liquid that produced a strong odor of chlorine, causing irritation to the eyes and airways.
According to Mr. Robin and James Bevan, the director of Conflict Armament Research, this is the first time that such a shell had been recovered in the fighting.