Kurds fighting Islamic State ask coalition partners for gas masks

13 March 2016

Request comes after chemical attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan

Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) have submitted a request calling for coalition forces to supply gas masks after chemical attacks on civilian areas in northern Iraq.

The Kurdish armed forces, known as the peshmerga, discussed acquiring gas masks with a team of German advisors on 9 March according to the peshmerga Lieutenant General Abdullah Ahmed.

“On 8 March the town of Taza was attacked from the nearby town of Bashir,” he told MEED in an interview on 9 March. “Poison gas was part of the attack, which started at 3.30pm and lasted until late evening.”

Abdullah Ahmed one of the commanders responsible for a 30-kilometre stretch of frontline near Kirkuk city that extends from Maktab-Khalid to Taza.

“At the moment the peshmerga have no gas masks,” he said. “At a meeting with a team of German military advisors we requested gas masks to be supplied to the peshmerga. We have also completed an official application asking for gas masks and submitted it to the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.”

The chemical attacks on Taza left a three-year-old girl dead while estimates of those wounded range between 30 and 600 people.

The shells fell behind the front line in the town itself and the people who were injured were mainly civilians.

“Bashir is close to Taza so the shells can be launched from relative safety,” said Abdullah Ahmed. “They did it because it is an easy way to scare people.”

They chemical agent used in the attacks has not been confirmed.

On 12 March Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would retaliate against Isis saying the attack “will not go unpunished”.

In February, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan accused Isis of using chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Iraq and Syria.

A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current MEED.com package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.

Get Notifications