- Title: IS militants have launched several chemical attacks on Qayyara in last months
- Date: 12th November 2016
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LOCAL RESIDENT, SIRHAN AWWAD, SAYING: "After the rocket fell in the garden it emitted a strong smell. It smelled like a body left to rot for three or four days. Security forces came the next day to retrieve the rocket. They thought the chemicals in it were no longer effective, so they used their hands, without protective gear, and did not have specialists with them."
- Embargoed: 27th November 2016 15:35
- Keywords: Iraq Qayyara chemical attacks Islamic State militants
- Location: QAYYARA, IRAQ
- City: QAYYARA, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA0035851RUV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS GRAPHIC MATERIAL
The skin on five-year-old Doaa's legs, arms and neck is blackened and hard even weeks after the attack. She is still in severe pain, and sits or stands trying not to touch anything or move too much.
Doaa was playing in the courtyard when a rocket fired by Islamic State landed and exploded on the other side of the wall in the neighbour's garden, emitting a toxic gas, her father Abdallah Sultan and other residents said.
"A mustard gas rocket fell here, it was around noon. It caused a disaster here, there were children out, families, the house was damaged, we were all affected, some had tears streaming down their face, others had complications in their stomachs. There was panic and fear, it was a terrible situation," said Omar Khalifeh, a relative of Doaa and next door neighbour.
The attack, which took place about a month ago, appears to be the fourth chemical weapons attack launched by Islamic State against civilians in the town of Qayyara in northern Iraq in September and October. Rights workers have so far documented at least three others.
The United Nations says Islamic State is stockpiling ammonia and sulphur in civilian areas and fears it intends to carry out more chemical attacks as Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. air power, battle the jihadists in an effort to drive them out of Mosul, their last major city stronghold in Iraq.
The ultra-hardline group has shown its willingness to use toxic substances and to repeatedly target civilians, lashing out at populations in areas under their control as it has retreated towards Mosul.
The attacks on Qayyara, some 50 km south of Mosul, took place just before the current offensive began in earnest on October 17.
Qayyara was recaptured from Islamic State in August but the militants were still in the area until last month.
Around the corner from where Doaa was hit, another chemical warhead landed inside a home in September, burrowing into the lawn.
The victims and witnesses said the substance used in that and all the other attacks was mustard gas.
Sirhan Awwad, who was injured from trying to help remove the rocket, had to go to Baghdad for treatment because staff at the local clinic said they could not treat that type of burn.
Still covered in blistering skin, he said the symptoms from exposure to the gas did not occur immediately but that Baghdad had identified his symptoms as consistent with those from exposure to mustard gas agents.
Human Rights Watch on Friday (November 12) reported that attack and two other uses of chemical weapons by Islamic State in Qayyara. The New York-based watchdog cited experts as saying that blister agents such as sulphur mustard might have been the chemicals that were used.
Qayyara, a town that suffered under Islamic State, still reels from the aftermath of the fight to drive out the militants.
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