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Kurdish YPG accuses IS of using poisonous gas in northern Syria
The Islamic State (IS) militants have used poisonous gas in recent attacks against the Kurdish fighters and civilians in northeastern Syria, a Kurdish official and monitor group reported Saturday.
The U.S.-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) accused the IS of using chemical gas in attacks that took place in northeastern Syria late June.
Redur Xelil, YPG spokesman, said the type of the chemicals used has not yet been identified, stressing that symptoms that have appeared on the affected people indicated the use of a chemical gas by the terror-labeled group.
"Since late June 2015, the terrorist organization of IS used chemical weapons against the positions of the YPG and the civilians, and as a result, the leadership of the YPG has formed a fact-finding mission to document the incident and collect samples and testimonies from those who were subject to the (IS) shelling," Xelil said.
He added that the YPG is in possession of evidence, "but due to the lack of capabilities, we couldn't yet identify the type of the chemical used by the IS."
On June 28, the IS fired several shells stuffed with chemicals on the densely-populated al-Salihiyeh district in the city of Hasaka, Xelil said, adding that a similar attack also targeted the southern part of the Tal Barak area in the same city.
Following the attack, a yellow gas appeared from the shells with a strong odor that smelled like rotten onion, Xelil said, noting that the YPG fighters who were exposed had suffered several symptoms, including feeling a burn in the eyes, nose and throat coupled with severe headache and muscle ache as well as disorientation and lack of movement.
Those who were exposed for a longer time vomited.
"All of our fighters who were exposed to the gas were transported to the hospitals for checkups and they are still suffering from the same symptoms," he said, adding that the doctors confirmed that the used substance is a chemical one.
Over the past four weeks, Xelil said the YPG seized anti-chemical gas masks from the IS, "which indicate that they were ready and equipped for a chemical warfare."
He noted that the YPG is investigating the use of chemical weapons by IS by the support of an international team of experts in the armed conflict studies.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based watchdog group, said it had documented the use of poisonous gas in an attack carried out by the IS against a town near the Tal Barak area in the northeastern city of Hasakah last June.
The YPG and the IS have been engaged in violent battles in recent months for control of key predominantly-Kurdish areas in northern Syria.
The latest battles have been raging in Hasaka, where the Syrian forces and allied Kurdish fighters defended the city from a massive attack by the IS, which succeeded to storm some districts in the southern rim of the city.
Still, the use of chemical weapons is not new in Syria.
The opposition activists have accused the Syrian government forces of using chlorine gas in its attacks against rebel-held areas several times during the four-year-old conflict.
The government denied the accusations and pointed the accusation finger against the rebels, saying that they want to use chemical weapons to frame the Syrian army.
In 2013, the UN sent an investigation team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate the accusations and were later tasked in overseeing the destruction of the Syrian chemical arsenal after the Syrian government joined the chemical weapons convention.
If true, the recent suspected chemical attacks will add to the brutal tactics carried out by the IS in its war in Syria and Iraq.
[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 18Jul15]
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