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Iraq says Qaeda poison gas cell busted in Baghdad

Iraqi anti-terror police guard a checkpoint in Baghdad, on January 6, 2011. Iraq’s defense ministry says it has dismantled an Al-Qaeda cell that was working to produce poison gas at two locations in Baghdad. (File photo: AFP)

Iraq’s defense ministry said on Saturday that it has broken up an Al-Qaeda cell that was working to produce poison gas at two locations in the capital for future attacks at home and abroad.

The group of five people built two facilities to produce sarin and mustard gas, using instructions from another Al-Qaeda group, spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told a news conference.

The members of the cell were prepared to launch attacks domestically, and also had a network to smuggle the toxins to neighboring countries, and also to Europe and North America, Askari said.

The arrest of the cell members was possible because of cooperation between Iraqi and foreign intelligence services, he added.

The United Nations said last month that sarin nerve gas may have been used by rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria.

Saddam Hussein’s forces used poison gas to attack the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988, killing an estimated 5,000 people.

Al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq is still active in the country, launching regular attacks against both the government and civilians.

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Last Update: Saturday, 1 June 2013 KSA 19:17 - GMT 16:17
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