Iraqi militia seize ISIS chemical weapons store
25 February, 2016
Iraqi militia fighters have captured two locations with vast deposits of highly toxic agents used by Islamic State terrorists to arm mortar shells and rockets, potentially for use against civilian targets.
A sweep of the industrial area of the city of Ramadi in central Iraq, which a short while ago was controlled by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISISL) militants, brought more evidence that the terror group is waging chemical warfare on Iraqi militia and civilians.
Officers of the volunteer corps discovered two warehouses with stockpiles of plastic canisters containing Vinyltrichlorosilane (designated as "Corrosive" UN 1305), a caustic chemical capable of causing serious injury.
Inhalation of Vinyltrichlorosilane causes irritation of mucous membranes and contact with the body causes severe burns of the eyes and skin. Ingestion can lead to serious burns to the mouth and stomach. The chemical reacts violently with water, steam or moist air, generating hydrochloric acid fumes that are highly flammable. If burned, Vinyltrichlorosilane can form toxic chlorine and phosgene gases.
“This chemical is used by Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIS]. They load it into their mortar shells and rockets to attack civilians and militia. Even if not contacted directly, when sprayed it causes suffocation,” one officer explained to Sputnik Arabic news agency, which obtained exclusive footage of the find.
The video shows that on the militia’s arrival to the chemical depot some of the canisters are empty, obviously already used by jihadists.
A source in Iraq’s security services said that one of the depots with dangerous chemicals has already been evacuated to a secure location by the 16th Division of the Iraqi Army. The source noted that access to the warehouse was rigged with explosives and had to be de-mined.
Islamic State has already put Vinyltrichlorosilane to use against Kurdish and Yazidi militia. On February 11, as a result of IS shelling in the suburbs of the city of Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan, 23 people reportedly received chemical burns from Vinyltrichlorosilane to the skin and upper respiratory tracts. The people affected were treated at a hospital in Dahuk.
Earlier in February, Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan acknowledged that Islamic State had used chemical munitions in battle and may have access to chemical agents.
“We have a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield,” the CIA chief told CBS. “There are reports that ISIL has access to chemical precursors and munitions that they can use.”