Evidence found: Daesh fired chemical mortars

Updated 18 July 2015

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.


Iraqi MP dies of COVID-19 as cases jump 600%

Updated 15 min 35 sec ago

Iraqi MP dies of COVID-19 as cases jump 600%

  • Ghida Kambash, 46, was a three-time MP from Baquba
  • Iraq’s health ministry has declared around 70,000 coronavirus cases, of whom nearly 3,000 have died and 40,000 recovered

BAGHDAD: Iraqi lawmaker Ghida Kambash died Friday after contracting the novel coronavirus, parliament announced, its first member to succumb to the virus as its spread ramps up across the country.
The 46-year-old was a three-time MP from Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, and helped pass laws on education reform and social welfare.
She leaves behind four children.
Last month, parliament speaker Mohammed Al-Halbussi said up to 20 deputies were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19.
In total, Iraq’s health ministry has declared around 70,000 coronavirus cases, of whom nearly 3,000 have died and 40,000 recovered.
After seeing a relatively slow spread in the first five months of 2020, cases spiked 600 percent in June alone, according to the International Rescue Committee.
“The rate at which COVID-19 is spreading through Iraq is extremely alarming,” said Christine Petrie, IRC’s country director.
The country’s health system — already worn down by years of war and poor investments — has been overwhelmed by the rising numbers.
Protective equipment, respirators and even hospital beds are all running low, forcing authorities to turn expo centers, stadiums and hotels into coronavirus wards and confinement centers.
Particularly stark is the “severe shortage of oxygen,” according to the World Health Organization, which recently airlifted 300 oxygen concentrators to help Iraqi hospitals cope.
Aid has also been donated from foreign countries, most recently Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the US.
Still, footage shot in hospitals in Iraq’s south shows patients struggling to breathe without access to respirators as their family members berate health staff.
Health Minister Dr. Hassan Salman was in the southern province of Diwaniyah on Friday to inspect hospital conditions there.
Iraq relaxed its curfew measures in recent weeks after imposing a strict country-wide lockdown in late March.
The restrictions hit its fledgling private sector hard, with an IRC survey finding that 87 percent of Iraqis were out of work as a result of the lockdown and 61 percent were already going into debt.
“Once things stabilize there will be a lot of work to do to help people get back on their feet,” said Petrie.
“Their loss of livelihoods will have taken a heavy toll on people’s mental health, which was already in a fragile state after decades of conflict and instability.”