Evidence found: Daesh fired chemical mortars

Updated 18 July 2015
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Evidence found: Daesh fired chemical mortars

BEIRUT: Daesh fired chemical weapons against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq last month, Kurdish fighters and weapons experts have said.

The Conflict Armament Research (CAR) group and Sahan Research said in a statement Friday that Daesh targeted Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga with a projectile filled with a chemical agent on June 21 or 22.
The organizations also documented two such attacks against Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province on June 28.
The YPG said the attacks targeted the Kurdish-held Salhiya district of Hasakeh city and Kurdish positions south of the town of Tel Brak.
“Upon impact, the projectiles released a yellow gas with a strong smell of rotten onions,” the YPG said in a statement on Friday.
It added that the ground around the impact sites was stained with a liquid that was green at first but turned yellow on contact with sunlight.
“Our troops exposed to the gas experienced burning of the throat, eyes and nose, combined with severe headaches, muscle pain and impaired concentration and mobility. Prolonged exposure to the chemicals also caused vomiting.”
The YPG reported no deaths in the attacks and said that exposed forces subsequently recovered from their symptoms.
They added that YPG fighters had captured industrial-grade gas masks from Daesh forces in recent weeks “confirming that they are prepared and equipped for chemical warfare along this sector of the front.”
CAR and Sahan Research, who conducted research in coordination with Kurdish forces, said in a joint statement that seven projectiles were fired in the Hasakeh city attack, and 17 in the attack near Tal Brak.
They said urine samples taken from those affected in the Tal Brak attack tested positive for a compound that is commonly found in agricultural pesticides.
Meanwhile, Daesh executed an Iraqi journalist in the northern city of Mosul on charges of spying, local officials and colleagues said Saturday. Jala Al-Abadi was taken from his home with his phone and laptop on June 4 and executed on Wednesday by firing squad after being sentenced by a Daesh court.
A former senior security officer in the area and a medical source in Mosul confirmed the young journalist’s death.
The father of two was born in 1988 and had worked as a cameraman for a local channel before Daesh took over Iraq’s second city in June 2014.
He left his city then but, according to a someone who was close to the journalist, he returned to Mosul for personal reasons. He did not elaborate.
Abadi was arrested when he tried to leave again and charged by Daesh, which has run the city since June 10 last year, with “leaking information” about the group to the national press.
Mohammed Al-Bayati, the head of the Nineveh Media Network, condemned the latest execution and urged the United Nations to support the families of murdered journalists.


US ‘suspects’ Iran seized UAE based oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz

Updated 52 min 13 sec ago
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US ‘suspects’ Iran seized UAE based oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz

  • Ship tracking data shows the Panamanian-flagged tanker Riah stopped transmitting its location Saturday
  • A US defense official told AP that Riah is in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island

LONDON: The US said it suspects Iran has seized an oil tanker that drifted into Iranian waters as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz.

Ship tracking data shows the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah, which is based in the UAE, stopped transmitting its location on Saturday.

The incident is the latest involving shipping in the region where tensions between Iran and the US have escalated in recent months. Iran has been accused of planting mines on several tankers as Washington ramps up economic and military pressure on the regime over its nuclear program and aggressive foreign policy in the region.

Iran also threatened to retaliate against shipping after British forces this month helped seize an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar as it attempted to deliver oil to Syria.

A US defense official told AP that Riah is in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it. He said the US "has suspicions" Iran seized the vessel.

"Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That's a possibility," the official said. "But the longer there is a period of no contact ... it's going to be a concern."

The Riah, a 58-meter oil tanker, traveled from a port near Dubai through the Strait of Hormuz toward Fujairah on the UAE's east coast. After 11 p.m. Saturday something happened to the vessel, according to tracking data.

Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv told AP that the tanker had not switched off its tracking in three months of trips around the UAE.

"That is a red flag," Raja said. 

An Emirati official told Al Arabiya that the oil tanker is not owned or operated by the UAE and has not sent a distress call.

“We are monitoring the situation with our international partners,” the official said.

The ship's registered owner, Dubai-based Prime Tankers LLC, told AP it had sold the ship to another company.

Iranian officials have not said anything publicly about the ship.

*With AP