Iraq: Top Daesh chemical arms engineer captured by US forces

Published March 9th, 2016 - 04:30 GMT
Army General David Rodriguez (C), commander of the US Africa Command, and Army General Joseph Votel (R), commander of the US Special Operations Command, wait for a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
Army General David Rodriguez (C), commander of the US Africa Command, and Army General Joseph Votel (R), commander of the US Special Operations Command, wait for a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

The head of Daesh's unit in charge of producing chemical weapons was captured in a raid by US special forces last month, according to two Iraqi government sources cited in a report by the Associated Press.

The capture of the chemical arms engineer is the first major documented success of Washington's more aggressive policy of pursuing Daesh on the ground, as opposed to airstrikes. 

The Obama administration launched the new strategy in December, when it deployed a specialized commando team dedicated to capturing Daesh leaders in clandestine operations.

The Iraqi officials identified the man as Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, who also specialized in chemical arms under Saddam Hussein. Al-Afari was captured in a raid near the town of Tal Afar.

No confirmation was immediately available from US officials on the matter.

Daesh is believed to have set up a special unit dedicated to chemical weapons research, and to have stockpiled limited quantities of mustard gas. Other reports have accused Daesh of using chemical weapons in both Iraq and Syria.

The US has been leading coalition airstrikes against Daesh for more than a year, but remains extremely secretive about tactics of commando operations on the ground.


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