U.S. investigating if ISIS used chemical arms

Peshmerga fighters told AFP Thursday that they had been the target of a chemical attack on Tuesday

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The United States is investigating whether the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) used chemical weapons, the White House said Thursday, following allegations that the Islamist militants deployed chemical weapons against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.

Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said the U.S. is taking the allegations “very seriously” and seeking more information about what happened. He noted that ISIS had been accused of using such weapons before.

“We continue to monitor these reports closely, and would further stress that any use of chemicals or biological material as a weapon is completely inconsistent with international standards and norms regarding such capabilities,” Baskey said in a statement.

A U.S. official deemed it “plausible” Thursday that ISIS used mustard gas against Iraqi Kurd fighters this week.

“Based on previous information, we found these reports plausible,” the official told AFP, referring to a Wall Street Journal story citing U.S. and German sources that said the extremist group had used the banned chemical weapon.

On Thursday, a German foreign ministry spokesman told Al Arabiya News that Berlin “could not confirm” that Kurdish were attacked with chemical weapons a few days ago.

But the ministry did not rule out that a chemical attack could have taken place.

Peshmerga fighters told AFP Thursday that they had been the target of a chemical attack on Tuesday. They suggested rockets filled with chlorine gas were to blame and did not mention mustard gas.

The German Defense Ministry has said that Iraqi and U.S. specialists are on their way to the scene of the attack to investigate.

Mustard gas is an asphyxiant that has been banned in war by the U.N. since 1993.

(With AP and AFP)

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