Shortly after Russia’s accusations that a US drone was coincidentally overhead when the UN convoy was struck, CNN reports that US officials are stating that ISIS is suspected of firing a shell with mustard agent that landed at the Qayarrah air base in Iraq Tuesday where US and Iraqi troops are operating. Luckily, no US troops were hurt or have displayed symptoms of exposure to mustard agent.
For some context, this happened earlier (as Reuters reports)
The Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that a U.S. Predator drone was in the area where a U.N. aid convoy was partially destroyed in Syria on Monday and had appeared on the scene minutes before the incident.
Repeating denials of Russian involvement in the episode, Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the ministry, said Western allegations that Moscow was responsible were an attempt to distract attention from the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing of Syrian soldiers near Deir al-Zor airport on Saturday.
And now, as CNN reports, ISIS is suspected of firing a shell with mustard agent that landed at the Qayarrah air base in Iraq Tuesday where US and Iraqi troops are operating, according to several US officials.
The shell was categorized by officials as either a rocket or artillery shell. After it landed on the base, just south of Mosul, US troops tested it and received an initial reading for a chemical agent they believe is mustard.
No US troops were hurt or have displayed symptoms of exposure to mustard agent.
One official said the agent had “low purity” and was “poorly weaponized.” A second official called it “ineffective.”
A US defense official said troops had gone out to look at the ordnance after it landed. Based on seeing what they thought was a suspect substance, two field tests were conducted.
The first test was positive and the second was negative, the official said. The substance is now being sent to a lab for further examination.
US troops involved in the incident went through decontamination showers as a precaution. No troops have shown any symptoms of exposure, such as skin blistering. CNN has reported on previous instances where ISIS has fired rounds with mustard agents in Iraq and Syria.
The officials said they “had expected” that ISIS might try use chemical weapons as US and Iraqi forces push towards Mosul in an effort to take the city back from ISIS. Several hundred US troops are using the base as a staging area for supporting Iraqi forces.
All of this has led the Pentagon to assess on a preliminary basis that it was ISIS that fired at the base, since the terror group has been making mustard agent for some time.
Unfortunately, for now, John Kerry has been unable to find any YouTube clips to confirm the chemical weapons usage. And the big question is – was the mustard gas US made?