Skip to main content

Iraqi PM vows revenge after IS chemical attack kills 3-year-old

The attack, which injured hundreds, came after reports that the militant group is developing an arsenal of chemical-laden rockets
Iraqi men carry the coffin of Fatima Samir, 3, who was killed by a suspected mustard gas attack near Kirkuk this week (AFP)

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed on Saturday to retaliate against the Islamic State group after it launched a chemical attack on a town near Kirkuk.

The suspected mustard gas attack on Taza, about 220km north of Baghdad and just south of Kirkuk, that left a three-year-old girl dead "will not go unpunished," the premier said in a statement.

Several rockets were fired on Taza on Wednesday from the nearby village of Bashir, which is held by the militants.

Intelligence experts are still analysing samples but local officials believe mustard agent was used in the attack.

Abadi promised that medical support would be provided to the town, where hundreds of people received care following the chemical attack.

Middle East Eye has recently reported that IS is developing an arsenal of homemade, chemical-laden rockets that have been fired at Kurdish and Iraqi forces in Sinjar.

On Wednesday, the same day as the attack in Taza, US special forces captured Sulayman Dawud al-Bakkar, the head of IS's chemical weapons division, near Tal Afar, about halfway between Mosul and Sinjar.

A day later, the Pentagon said the US-led coalition carried out a series of air strikes on IS chemical weapons sites, acting on information gleaned from Bakkar.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral on Friday of Fatima Samir, the girl who died of wounds sustained during the attack. Some of the mourners carried placards demanding protection.

The Iraqi air force carried out a strike on Bashir overnight, and Abadi promised a ground operation to retake the village from IS soon, pro-government militia commander Abu Ridha al-Najjar said.

Bashir lies in an area that is officially under federal administration but is controlled by Kurdish forces that de facto expanded their autonomous region on the back of the IS militants' 2014 offensive.

Tension has been high between Kurdish forces and Shia militias in the area, impeding military cooperation against IS.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.