Published: Mon, March 06, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

UN Calls for Inquiry into Suspected Chemical Weapon Use in Mosul

UN Calls for Inquiry into Suspected Chemical Weapon Use in Mosul

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that five children and two women were receiving treatment for exposure to chemical agents.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Lise Grande called for an investigation, saying there is never justification for using chemical weapons.

Reporting from Erbil, Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, who visited the hospital where the patients were being treated, said: "I saw a young boy, about eight or nine years old, and his entire body had burn marks, black and brown marks, all across his body".

Also Sunday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it was "seriously concerned" about alleged use of chemicals in fighting in Mosul.

Their ranks rose by more than 10,000 in the past two days, the government said.

USA -backed Iraqi forces began a major offensive on February 19 to remove Islamic State militants from the western section of Mosul, nearly a month after they forced militants out of the eastern part of the city.

More than 45,000 people have been forced to flee the city in the last two weeks, the International Organisation for Migration says.

More than 17,000 people arrived from west Mosul on February 28 alone, while over 13,000 came on March 3, according to the IOM.

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Iraqi security forces are progressing as planned in their battle to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State group but the fighting will get tougher as they approach the city center, a U.S. general said today.

Iraqi forces have recaptured several areas in west Mosul since launching the push to retake it on February 19, but their pace has slowed amid bad weather which muddies streets and makes air support more hard.

IS overran large areas of both countries in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in territory it controlled, but the jihadist group has since lost ground to Iraqi forces and faced advances from different groups in Syria.

"We can't be sure people are being honest but all the people we interviewed said that only distant relatives are affiliated with Islamic State or they were not affiliated at all", Belkis Wille, the senior Iraq researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW) told The Media Line.

She said that HRW opposes collective punishment and is concerned that similar cases will recur.

In some cases, local PMF forces destroyed hundreds of homes with explosives after they retook the area, targeting not only families allegedly affiliated with Islamic State but some families that had fled the fighting.

The report said that at least 19 of the 52 attacks took place in and around Mosul.

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