Iraq's envoy to the United Nations Mohamed Ali Alhakim said that there was no evidence that the Islamic State (ISIS) had used chemical weapons in the battle for Mosul. He made the remark as the United Nations Security Council was being briefed on the northern city's situation behind closed doors.
"There was really no evidence that Daesh has used this chemical weapon," Reuters quoted Alhakim telling reporters. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIS. The United Nations Security Council was briefed on Mosul's security by U.N. aid chief Stephen O'Brien and U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo on Friday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported on March 3 that seven people had been admitted to a hospital near Mosul suffering from symptoms indicating they were exposed to toxins from chemical agents, AFP reported.
"During the past two days, the hospital has admitted five children and two women showing clinical symptoms consistent with an exposure to a blistering chemical agent," ICRC Middle East Director Robert Mardini said in a statement. The organization also reported that a total of 12 people had been admitted with similar symptoms to Rozhawa hospital in Erbil.
The report prompted British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, United Nations Security Council president for March, to issue a statement of concern about the incident. "We expressed concern over reports of possible use of chemical weapons by Daesh and we look forward to the results of Iraq's investigation into those allegations," he said.
But Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had earlier belied the chemical attack reports, saying what the witnesses saw was a mixture of smoke and gas. "According to our information and our follow up, if ISIS were capable of using chemical weapons, they would have used it," he said. "But according to our information, they do not have that capability to use it."