By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
MAREA, SYRIA (ANS – November 8, 2015) — Mustard gas was used in an attack on a town in northern Syria in August, chemical weapons experts have concluded.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said the chemical agent was used in the town of Marea.
“Islamic State (IS) militants were accused of using mustard gas during fighting with a local rebel group,” said the BBC. “The OPCW report said a baby “very likely” died as a result of its use.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)saidat the time of the August 21st attack that it had treated four members of a family who were suffering from breathing difficulties and had developed blisters after a mortar hit their Marea home.
Journalists who have had access to the OPCW report say it concludes “with utmost confidence that at least two people were exposed to sulphur mustard”.
The BBC went on to say that the report does not apportion blame, but diplomatic sources have confirmed the weapon was used in clashes between IS and another rebel group taking place in the town at the time, Reuters news agency reports.
Sulphur mustard – commonly known as “mustard gas” although it is liquid at ambient temperature – is a powerful irritant andblistering agentwhich causes severe damage to the skin, eyes and respiratory system and internal organs.
There are growing fears that Islamic State, also known as ISIS< is using chemical weapons in both Syria and Iraq.
Earlier in August, the US militarysaidthe group was suspected of having used them in an attack on Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
“Reports of a sulphur mustard attack on Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq are also being investigated,” added the BBC. “US officials have suggested IS might have obtained the sulphur mustard in Syria.”
The Syrian government declared that all of its stockpiles had been destroyed under a disarmament deal agreed following a deadly sarin nerve agent attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, 2013.
Photo captions: 1) Aftermath of alleged bombings by Islamic State of Marea this April, which killed at least 32 people. (Photograph: Zein Al-Rifai/AFP/Getty Images). 2) A projectile believed to have contained mustard gas lies on the ground in Aleppo, Syria, after an Islamic State assault in early September. (Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images). 3) A wounded man receive treatment after a mustard gas attack on Marea. (Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images). Dan Wooding reporting for ANS from outside the Kurdistan Parliament in Erbil, Northern Iraq.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has two US-based TV programs –- “Windows on the World” and “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding” — which are both broadcast on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/) and a weekly radio show called “Front Page Radio” on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com).
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