Iraqi victims suffer ‘ISIS chemical attacks’

The skin on five-year-old Doaa's hands is blackened after a rocket fired by ISIS landed and exploded in Qayyara. (Reuters)

The skin on five-year-old Doaa’s legs, arms and neck is blackened and hard even weeks after the attack. She is still in severe pain and tries not to touch anything or move too much.

Doaa was playing in the courtyard when a rocket fired by ISIS landed and exploded in the neighbor’s garden, emitting a toxic gas, her father Abdallah Sultan and other residents said.

Around a month after the blast, a strong burning smell still pervades the air and stings the nose. The wall next door is black and all the plants in a small vegetable patch have died. Part of the rocket, which the families avoid touching, is left on the ground. The rest has been removed by rescue workers.

“We don’t know what the substance in the warhead was. All we know is that it made Doaa break out in blisters all over her body, and she’s not got better,” 33-year-old Sultan said.

She was a victim of what appears to have been the fourth chemical weapons attack launched by ISIS during September and October against civilians in the town of Qayyara in northern Iraq. Rights workers have so far documented at least three others.

Sirhan Awwad shows his injuries after he tried to help remove a rocket fired by ISIS that landed and exploded in Qayyara. (Reuters)

Sirhan Awwad shows his injuries after he tried to help remove a rocket fired by ISIS that landed and exploded in Qayyara. (Reuters)

The United Nations says ISIS is stockpiling ammonia and sulfur in civilian areas and fears it intends to carry out more chemical attacks as Iraqi forces, backed by US air power, battle the extremists in an effort to drive them out of Mosul, their last major stronghold in Iraq.

The ultra-hardline group has shown its willingness to use toxic substances and to repeatedly target civilians, lashing out at populations in areas under its control as it has retreated towards Mosul.

The attacks on Qayyara, some 50 km south of Mosul, took place just before the current offensive began in earnest on Oct. 17. Qayyara was recaptured from ISIS in August but the militants were still in the area until last month.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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