IS militants plan to use banned mustard gas in Iraq, Syria
The Pentagon transferred the head of the Islamic State terror group's chemical weapons development unit to the Iraqi government Thursday shortly after the USA captured him in a raid, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook announced.
Mr.al-Afari was captured last month, shortly after the arrival in Iraq of a new Special Operations force that is made up primarily of Delta Force commandos.
During questioning, the Iraqi operative has provided details about Islamic State's chemical weapons program, including locations of two storage sites that were later targeted in US airstrikes, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the operation.
Iraqi Turkmen officials said the terrorist Daesh group has carried out a chemical attack on the town of Tuz Khurmatu in the northern province of Saladin.
"The information has resulted in multiple coalition air strikes that have disrupted and degraded ISIL's ability to produce chemical weapons and will continue to inform our operations in the future".
"We believe that the information we've been able to obtain will allow us to conduct additional operations", Cook said at a news briefing on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters from a base outside the city of Tikrit, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi played down fears of the group's chemical weapons capabilities, saying the group lacks "chemical capabilities".
Beyond intelligence value, the capture in Iraq could strike a blow to what Iraqi and American officials have described as a determined effort by the IS group to develop chemical weapons. If confirmed, it would be the first known use of chemical weapons in Iraq since the fall of Saddam, the BBC says.
The U.S. intelligence community has been tracking a number of confirmed chemical attacks by ISIS where powdered mustard agent was used in artillery shells, the official said.
Militants of the Islamic State (IS) had planned to use mustard gas in Iraq and Syria, US media reported on Wednesday, quoting US defence officials. "We've seen their use demonstrated in Syria and Iraq".
Iraqi officials expressed particular worry over the campaign because IS gained so much room to operate and hide chemical laboratories after overrunning around a third of the country in the summer of 2014, joined with territory they controlled in Syria.
Shishani is believed to have died along with about 12 other militants in a series of US airstrikes near the town of Shadadi, which was recently retaken by U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab forces. But the 200-member Special Operations team has been given the task of killing and capturing Islamic State operatives, the latter in particular to use in gathering intelligence.
Last year, American commandos killed a key IS leader, Abu Sayyaf, and captured his wife in a raid in Syria.