The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq has issued a warning about the possible use of chemical weapons in Mosul where Islamic State militants are battling U.S.-backed Iraqi forces.
“This is horrible,” said Lise Grande, deputy special representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, who has called for an investigation. She said if the alleged use of chemical weapons is confirmed, it would be “a serious violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime, regardless of who the targets or the victims of the attacks are.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross says seven people have been admitted to a hospital near Mosul and are being treated for suspected exposure to chemical agents.
Robert Mardini, ICRC’s regional director for the Middle East, said five children and two women receiving treatment at the hospital are “showing clinical symptoms consistent with an exposure to a blistering chemical agent.” The symptoms include blisters, redness in the eyes, irritation, vomiting and coughing.
“The use of chemical weapons is absolutely prohibited under international humanitarian law,” Mardini said. “We are deeply alarmed by what our colleagues have seen and we strongly condemn any use of chemical weapons, by any party, anywhere.”
The alleged attacks are reported to have happened this past week in eastern Mosul.