Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants in Mosul had prepared improvised chemical weapons to use against Iraqi forces using laboratories at the Mosul University, the Pentagon said late Tuesday.
“Tests have confirmed the presence of the skin irritant sulfur mustard from samples recovered from Mosul University, a central location in ISIL’s chemical weapons program,” the Pentagon’s website quoted spokesperson Cap. Jeff Davis as saying in a press statement.
Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led military coalition and popular militias, recaptured eastern Mosul from Islamic State militants on January 24th after three months of battles, and are preparing to invade the western region. Military commanders say more than 3000 IS members were killed in that period.
Iraqi generals had said they suspected Islamic State was using labs at the Mosul University, which the government forces cleared from militants, to manufacture chemical weapons. But with the Pentagon revelation, it seems the effect of those weapons would not have been very serious.
IS has reportedly fortified its defenses in the west of Mosul preparing for anticipated security operations which military commanders predict to be more difficult given the density of residential areas and the need to ensure the safety of at least 750.000 civilians there.