A chlorine-tinged cloud of smoke rises into the air from a bomb detonated by Iraqi army and Shi’ite fighters from Hashid Shaabi forces, in the town of al-Alam in Salahuddin province March 10, 2015. CREDIT: REUTERS/THAIER AL-SUDANI
March 16 (Reuters) – Iraq said on Monday it had put its Tikrit offensive on hold and senior officials called for more air strikes to dislodge Islamic State militants, while a Kurdish officer said his forces were exposed to two further chlorine gas attacks by the insurgents.
General Aziz Waisi told journalists the insurgents used chlorine in a December attack on his military police brigade in the Sinjar mountain area, and twice during a January offensive west of Mosul, including a Jan. 23 attack described by Kurdish authorities on Saturday.
Waisi said a number of military police – he did not say how many – were taken to hospital, where blood tests indicated they had inhaled chlorine gas released by the bombs.
“When it exploded we realised it was not a normal smoke because it caused unconsciousness and vomiting,” he said, describing one incident, when peshmerga blew up a vehicle driven by a suspected would-be suicide bomber.
He declined to say whether samples from the two previously unreported attacks had been tested at an international laboratory along with those from the Jan. 23 attack…
A Sunni fighter who has joined Shi’ite militia groups known collectively as Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilization), allied with Iraqi forces against the Islamic State, looks at an Islamic State flag and ammunition displayed in al-Alam Salahuddin province March 15, 2015. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani