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IS launches chlorine gas attacks in western Mosul

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL Scumbags, whatever) has fired a rocket loaded with chlorine in western Mosul, Iraq, hitting several soldiers with the gas, according to an AP report.

"The Daesh terrorist gangs tried to block the advance of our forces by using shells filled with toxic chemical material, but the effect was limited", Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in a statement, referring to Saturday's incident on their Facebook page.

Iraqi police on Sunday accused Islamic State of using chemical weapons against their forces in Mosul, but said that had not stopped them making new ground towards the militants' last stronghold in the city.

US-backed Iraqi forces are battling ISIS militants in the more densely populated western half of Mosul. The mosque is highly symbolic because it was there that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself head of a self-proclaimed caliphate.

Drones are being used to locate and direct air strikes on the militants who are dug in the middle of civilians, he said.

As many as 500,000 others are in IS-controlled parts of western Mosul, where fighting is still underway.

Already, more than 493,000 people have left, leaving nearly everything behind, ” Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a news release issued by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "They are being shot at, there are artillery barrages, families are running out of supplies, medicines are scarce and water is cut-off", Grande added.

"We are expected to liberate the area today", he said.

Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, was captured by the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim fighters in mid 2014.

Two special forces units - the Counter-Terrorism Service and the Rapid Response Division - have spearheaded the fighting inside Mosul, while soldiers and police have also taken part. But Iraq's United Nations ambassador, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, said days later there was no evidence for that.

Mosul's permanent bridges over the Tigris river have been destroyed during the fighting, but the army had built two pontoon bridges which had allowed people to flee to safety in the east, and aid to get through to a camp for the displaced on the western side of the river.



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