On Tuesday, U.S. officials told CNN that they suspect ISIS of launching a shell with mustard agent into the Qayarrah air base in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi troops have been operating out of the base, but no U.S. troops were injured or are displaying symptoms of mustard exposure.
The shell was either a rocket or an artillery shell, according to officials. U.S. troops went out to examine the projectile after it landed. After seeing a “suspect substance,” field tests were conducted on the shell, and it was determined that it contained a chemical agent believed to be mustard. According to CNN, “One official said the agent had ‘low purity’ and was ‘poorly weaponized.’ A second official called it ‘ineffective.'” It has been sent to another lab for further tests.
U.S. soldiers were put through decontamination showers to be sure they were not poisoned with mustard gas. Symptoms of mustard gas exposure include blistering skin, burning or red eyes, throat and nose irritation, nausea and vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
Officials said they “had expected” ISIS may try to use chemical weapons against U.S. and Iraqi troops as they push to take back extremist-controlled Mosul. U.S. troops are using the Qayarrah air base as a “staging area” in order to better support the Iraqi military with their mission. The Pentagon suspects that it was ISIS who fired the shell into the air base.