ISIL takes control of former chemical weapons facility
ISIL rapidly seized control of several major Iraqi cities and has vowed to capture Baghdad. (AFP/File)
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Iraq has warned that the ISIL terrorists have taken control of a huge former chemical weapons facility northwest of the capital Baghdad.
In a letter distributed on Tuesday at the United Nations, Iraq said remnants of 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin are kept along with other chemical warfare agents in the facility. On June 12, the site's surveillance system showed that some equipment was looted.
Iraq's ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the letter that “armed terrorist groups” penetrated the Muthanna site on June 11, and detained officers and soldiers from the protection force guarding the facilities.
He said that his country is not capable of fulfilling “its obligations to destroy chemical weapons” due to the deteriorating security situation in the complex.
“The government will resume its efforts with regards to its obligations as soon as the security situation has improved and control of the facility has been regained,” Alhakim added.
He singled out the capture of bunkers 13 and 41 in the compound 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of the capital. Based on the last report by UN inspectors, bunker 13 contained 2,500 sarin-filled 122-mm chemical rockets along with about 180 tons of sodium cyanide, which is “a very toxic chemical and a precursor for the warfare agent tabun.”
Bunker 41 also held 2,000 empty 155-mm artillery shells contaminated with the chemical warfare agent mustard, 605 one-ton mustard containers with residues, and heavily contaminated construction material.
Violence in Iraq escalated after the ISIL terrorists took control of Mosul, in a lightning advance on June 10, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
An estimated 1.2 million people have been displaced in Iraq so far this year, according to estimates by the UN.
The ISIL terrorists have vowed to continue their raid towards Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling the seizure of Mosul a “conspiracy".
Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the terrorists in different fronts and have so far been able to push them back in several areas.
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