Initial field tests have indicated that Islamic militants may have used mustard gas in an Aug. 11 attack on Kurdish peshmerga forces in northern Iraq, a senior U.S. commander said Friday.
Fragments of mortar shells fired at the Kurds turned up positive for the chemical HD (sulfur mustard) “but that is a presumptive field test and it is not conclusive,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve.
“We have only a field test that shows us the presence of HD on those fragments. Until we do other tests, we won’t be able to have a firm decision on exactly what happened there,” Killea said. The additional testing was expected to take several weeks.
The introduction of chemical warfare by ISIS would represent a major escalation but “From a coalition perspective, we really don’t need another reason to hunt down ISIL (ISIS) and kill them wherever we can and whenever we can,” Killea said.