U.S. 'Actively Targeting' ISIS Chemical Weapons Threat
ARLINGTON, Va. -- An ISIS member involved in the use of chemical weapons was killed last week following the March capture of the group's chemical weapons chief -- but a spokesman for U.S. operations in Iraq suggested that there are more ISIS involved with the deadly concoctions who need to be found.
Speaking by video from Baghdad to reporters at the Pentagon today, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren announced "two high-value individuals" were killed in a May 13 operation.
Abu Hamza, a "mid-level military commander" and former al-Qaeda in Iraq member operating around Nasiriyah, "planned and conducted attacks against Americans during Operation Iraqi Freedom."
"More recently, he has been responsible for coordinating ISIL fighters, reinforcements and finances in the Euphrates River Valley. Local fighters thought highly of him as a motivator and a leader," Warren said. "Now he's dead."
"...They saw him as a cheerleader, right? That's kind of how we referred to him, right? He was sort of a cheerleader for the local forces here. And he's a cheerleader who will cheer no more because he's dead."
His "associate," Abu Sufyan, was "responsible for staging chemical attacks in the Euphrates River Valley."
Pressed on the nature of those attacks, Warren replied that "on the chem side, you know, this is a threat that we're aware of and that we've taken into account."
"We've certainly reported out that, I mean, it's not new that this enemy has used chemical weapons. They killed three children in Taza with chemical weapons. They've conducted chem strikes along the Kurdish forward line of troops on several occasions," he said. The March attack on Taza, an ethnic Turkmen town, consisted of some 40 rockets tipped with what was believed to be a mix of mustard gas and chlorine.
"So, you know, the enemy use of chem weapons is something that we've accounted for. And we understand, and you know, and this is why we conducted our operations to seize Abu Dawud, who was their chemical weapons emir."