Iraqi Troops Are Training for Chemical Combat
Because of Islamic State, of course
A photo of Iraqi army soldiers, shot in May but only recently published by American advisers, depicts the Iraqis wearing gas masks in training.
“The soldiers are training with new issued equipment that was donated by the U.S. and other coalition forces to better prepare the Iraqi army for threats [from] Islamic State,” Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve public affairs explained.
The masks are no joke. Islamic State has joined the Syrian regime in deploying chemical weapons. According to CBS:
A senior U.S. military officer says preliminary tests show traces of the chemical agent sulfur mustard on mortars that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants used to attack Kurdish forces in Iraq.
U.S. Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, chief of staff for the military operations in Iraq and Syria, says the field testing is not conclusive, so final tests are underway to get the full make-up of the chemicals on the fragments.
U.S. officials have been looking into reports that ISIS militants used the chemical weapon mustard gas in the Aug. 11 attack in Makhmour. Similar reports surfaced in July.
To be clear, mustard gas can harm exposed skin, so you’d need protective clothing in addition to a mask. But a mask is a good start.
For its own part, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran and its own Kurdish citizens back in the 1980s. The photo at top, via Wikipedia, depicts Iranian troops wearing protective masks.