‘They’re using mustard’: U.S. official says ISIL is creating its ownchemical weapons

ISIL is increasingly believed to be manufacturing its own crude chemical weapons, according to a U.S. official.
The extremist group has used mustard agents on at least four occasions as it fights to expand its self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq.
“They’re using mustard. We know they are,” the [unnamed] official told the BBC, saying it was probably being packed into mortar rounds.
Exposure can cause breathing difficulties and angry blistering of the skin.
It was previously thought that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had seized a stockpile of ready-filled shells. The new claims suggest that the group has developed the capacity to make its own.
ISIL’s initial stockpile may have been sourced from the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. When the Damascus government handed over its chemical weapons to inspectors in late 2013, many observers were surprised by the regime’s claim that it possessed only a small volume of mustard agent.
“Many including myself believed there was up to 200 tons of mustard agent missing from Assad’s declaration to the UN,” said Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a chemical weapons expert. He said there were credible reports that a small amount may have fallen into Isil’s hands in December 2013.Western diplomats have also raised concern over the possibility that Assad’s regime has kept back its own stockpile of chemical weapons.
As Syria’s war grinds on, there are signs that the British Government is softening its stance on the regime.
Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has said the UK could accept Assad staying in place for a transition period if it helped resolve the conflict.


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