U.S. seeking to confirm if ISIS used chlorine gas

Iraqi soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Tikrit, northern Iraq October 8, 2014. Picture taken Oct. 8, 2014.

Iraqi soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Tikrit, northern Iraq October 8, 2014. Picture taken Oct. 8, 2014.

The United States is looking into more information about reports that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has used chlorine gas against Iraqi security forces last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.

Speaking to reporters after meeting his South Korean counterpart, Kerry said he was unable to confirm media reports that chlorine gas was used against Iraqi police officers last month.

“These allegations are extremely serious and we are seeking additional information in order to be able to determine whether or not we can confirm it,” Kerry said.

The Washington Post reported Friday that 11 Iraqi police offices had been rushed to a hospital some 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad last month suffering from dizziness, vomiting and shortage of breath.

They were diagnosed as having been the victims of a poisoned gas attack allegedly unleashed by ISIS militants.

Iraqi forces said two other crude chlorine gas attacks have occurred since the summer, but The Washington Post said the details were unclear.

“The use of any chemical weapons is an abhorrent act, it’s against international law, and these recent allegations underscore the importance of the work that we are currently engaged in,” Kerry said.

But he stressed the reports would not change the U.S. strategy as it builds a coalition to fight ISIS militants who have seized control of a large area of Iraq and Syria.

It might affect “tactical decisions” taken as part of the strategy, but the U.S. is “step-by-step bringing the coalition further down the road to being able to shore up the Iraqi army itself and to take measures against ISIL,” Kerry said, using another acronym by which the group is known for.

 
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