HRW claims ISIS used chemical weapons in Mosul


International non-governmental organisation (NGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused ISIS militants of using chemical weapons in Mosul, Iraq, last week, causing harm to civilians and combatants.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 12 people were being treated for possible exposure to a mustard agent in a hospital in Erbil.

Though ICRC's tests have not yet been conclusive, patients in the hospital reportedly showed symptoms indicative of a chemical attack, including burns.

HRW stated that if confirmed, the alleged use of chemical weapons would be the first time ISIS has used this tactic during its battle with Iraqi government forces to retake control of the city.

"The alleged use of chemical weapons would be the first time ISIS has used this tactic during its battle with Iraqi government forces to retake control of the city."

The watchdog, however, believes that ISIS launched at least three chemical attacks in September and October last year after Iraqi troops retook the town of Qayyarah, 60km south of Mosul.

Witnesses allegedly told HRW that ISIS conducted two other chemical attacks targeting the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Peshmerga military forces in Taza Khurmatu in March 2016.

Additionally, the NGO warned that the use of chemicals as a weapon is a war crime.

HRW said that both Iraqi authorities and other states and organisations assisting in humanitarian protection must immediately deploy defensive measures to safeguard civilians, including masks and other protective equipment.