Middle East IS’ capabilities to produce chemical weapons severely reduced

IS’ capabilities to produce chemical weapons severely reduced
Security forces attempt to decontaminate an area after a chemical attack in Syria. (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Islamic State’s (IS) ability to produce chemical weapons has been significantly hampered since the Mosul offensive began, a London-based analysis group said on Tuesday.

A recent report by information services company IHS Markit revealed the insurgent group’s capabilities had been “severely affected” by the targeted killing of their weapons experts.

However, the report cautioned that the militant group is still likely capable of producing “small batches of sulfur mustard and chlorine agents.”

The IHS Markit analysis found that IS had carried out nine chemical weapons attacks in Iraq’s Mosul and one in Diyala Province, as well as one in neighboring Syria this year.

According to Columb Strack, a senior Middle East analyst at IHS Markit, the US-led offensive in Mosul has contributed to the decrease in chemical attacks by IS.

“The operation to isolate and recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul coincides with a massive reduction in [IS] chemical weapons use in Syria,” he explained.

“This suggests that the group has not established any further chemical weapons production sites outside Mosul,” Strack concluded.

The IHS Markit analyst added it was “likely that some [of the extremist group’s] specialists were evacuated to Syria and retain expertise.”

IS has been accused of conducting nearly 70 chemical weapons attacks since July 2014 in both Iraq and Syria.

According to IHS Markit, these attacks “involved either the use of chlorine or sulfur mustard agents, delivered with mortars, rockets, and IEDs.”

IS has lost large swaths of the territory it once controlled in Iraq since 2014.

Iraqi security forces with the help of US-led coalition airstrikes are targeting the group in Mosul, their remaining stronghold in Iraq.

 

Editing by G. H. Renaud