News / Middle East

    Captured IS Operative Provided US With Chemical Weapons Information

    FILE - People in protective suits and gas masks conduct a drill on how to treat casualties of a chemical weapons attack in Aleppo, Syria. Islamic State fighters reportedly fired rockets loaded with mustard gas into a town north of Baghdad late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
    FILE - People in protective suits and gas masks conduct a drill on how to treat casualties of a chemical weapons attack in Aleppo, Syria. Islamic State fighters reportedly fired rockets loaded with mustard gas into a town north of Baghdad late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

    U.S. defense officials say a key Islamic State operative captured by American forces last month has been transferred to Iraqi custody, after providing the U.S.-led coalition with valuable information about the militant group's chemical weapons capabilities.

    Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook referred to Sleiman Daoud Al-Bakkar, aka Abu Daoud, as Islamic State's "emir of chemical and traditional weapons manufacturing." Cook said the suspect revealed details on IS chemical weapons facilities and production, as well as the people involved.

    "The information has resulted in multiple coalition airstrikes that have disrupted and degraded ISIL's ability to produce chemical weapons and will continue to inform our operations in the future," Cook said, using another acronym for Islamic State.

    The capture of the IS operative by a U.S. "expeditionary targeting force" was reported earlier this month, but his identity and role in the militant group's chemical weapons program was not disclosed until this week.

    Recent attacks reported

    New allegations of chemical attacks carried out by IS were reported this week.

    Officials in Iraq told VOA on Wednesday that Islamic State fighters fired rockets loaded with mustard gas, also known as sulfur mustard, into a town north of Baghdad late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Iraqi and Kurdish officials said dozens of civilians were injured by the attack on Taza Khurmatu, a town whose residents are mostly Shi'ite Muslim ethnic Turkmen.

    "The rockets spread a garlicky smell and caused nausea and vomiting," according to Soran Jalal, head of Taza Khurmatu's civil defense office. He told VOA that investigators confirmed the weapons carried mustard gas.

    A commander in Kirkuk, the Kurdish population center north of Turkmen town, estimated about 30 people required hospital treatment. Lieutenant Muhammad Qadir told VOA at least five of the wounded had facial burns caused by chemical agents.

    Separately, a police official in Kirkuk, Brigadier General Sarhad Qadir, said it was determined the rockets were fired into Taza Khurmatu from territory controlled by the Islamic State group.

    VOA's Sharon Behn in Iraq and VOA reporters Rikar Hussein and Dilshad Anwar contributed to this report.


    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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