Islamic State lob shell into US/Iraqi/Kurdish base
The planning to re - take Mosul in Iraq the last big bastion of Islamic State in Iraq has been in the offing for a while and now it is ready to happen big time soon.
Already Iraqi and Kurdish forces have re - taken some outlying villages and towns from the death cult known locally as Daesh,
Islamic State on the battlefield across both Syria and Iraq are on the defensive and on the retreat as the war turns against them.
They face a multitude of enemies from the big powers like the US, UK and Russia to local powers like Iran and Shia militant groups like Hezbollah. Many of the caliphates leaders and top commanders have been killed in the fighting and it is believed that many of their fighters are deserting and they are having trouble getting new recruits. Their designated de - facto capital in Syria Raqqa could also be re - captured in the near future and in many respects Islamic States tenure of success and now looming defeat no doubt reflects what happened to the Japanese in WWII. Where by both the Japanese and IS had 6 months of run away success as they conquered territory after territory and now IS find themselves like the Japanese in the Pacific and in mainland Asia facing a stronger enemy which in the long run can only mean one thing - defeat. Japan back in the 40's and IS now are not able to go forward any more and find themselves having to defend more and more of their shrinking territory as Allied forces close in with less and less hardware to deploy on the battlefield.
Like the Japanese in the territories they controlled IS have been brutal to captured enemy soldiers and to the civilian population under their rule. From persecution of minorities and medieval forms of execution to harsh law such has been the rule of IS in the territory they held and still hold in Iraq and Syria.
Of course one of the fears expressed is that should and there is no reason to doubt Islamic State be defeated in Iraq and Syria they will expand else where as they have been trying to do in Libya and Bangladesh and in Iraq and Syria itself IS might become insurgent fighters still able to project their fight to their enemies as Al Qaeda still do.
Back to the situation around Mosul still in IS hands a mustard gas shell thought to have been fired by IS has landed in a base not far from Mosul where encamped are Kurdish/Iraqi and American soldiers no doubt awaiting orders for the big push to take Mosul.
As far as is known there have been no casualties either dead or wounded from this lethal projectile and pieces of the shell have been taken away for examination to determine the amount of mustard gas in the shell and how lethal it was.
US/Iraqi and Kurdish troops are not thought to be under any major threat if at all and the Americans say that IS are using very crude methods to make these mustard gas shells.
This would not be the first time IS or any other side in the conflict has used chemical weapons especially Assad's forces in Syria. The defenders in Mosul must know they will be facing a strong well motivated force this time not like the Iraqi army who fled from the advancing IS forces where even Baghdad at one stage was under threat so perhaps using mustard gas is an act of desperation on Daesh's part.
Use of mustard gas and other chemical weapons.
The first use of chemical weapons like mustard gas as far as is known in relatively modern times was in WWI when the Germans in 1917 deployed mustard gas shells. There is a case of many on the Allied side dying before they got out of their trenches and reached safety.
One particular nasty deployment also in 1917 was the use of mustard gas in the battle of Ypres called "Wipers" by British Tommies who could not pronounce the French name of the battlefield.
The Germans used mustard gas, phosgene and chlorine shells (chlorine has been used by combatants in the Syrian war too) and knew the different kinds of shells deploying these chemical agents because the shells were painted different colours. For example the mustard gas shells were painted yellow and were called "Yellows" by German soldiers as they loaded them and fired them mainly from artillery.
Mustard gas can lead to blistering and if inhaled directly can be fatal and sometimes victims take a long time to die.
The British also used chemical weapons in WWI as did other sides, chemical munitions were used probably by all sides in WWII but in a less limited way. The Japanese used them in China and by Germans bombing Warsaw in the 40's but its not something you usually associate with WWII more with WWI.
The Americans used napalm and agent orange in the Vietnam conflict and Argentina had plans and may have used napalm in the Falklands conflict in 1982 against the British. Iraq used mustard gas and other agents against Iran and whether Iran did is open to question however Iran said it would never use chemical or nuclear as it did not want to pollute the atmosphere or environment in accordance with a verse in the Koran about warfare apparently.
One of the earliest uses of chemical weapons may have been against Roman soldiers by Persians in a tunnel that decimated the Romans and killed the Persian injecting the gas into a tunnel if recent digs are to be believed.
Now bang up to date where chemicals have been deployed by all sides in the Iraq - Syria conflict such as IS and Assad but hopefully not the big powers. Iraq threatened to use chemical weapons against the Allies in the first Gulf War but was probably put off because the US and its Allies threatened to deploy battlefield nuclear weapons if they did. However many Allied soldiers came back after the war was over complaining about 'Gulf War Syndrome' as it came to be known which was either blamed on Iraqis using chemical weapons or something the Allies were using. Israel too has used phosphorous in its war with Gaza on many occasions but to how much extent is not clear.
So although illegal in the world chemicals are still available to be used as a weapon of mass destruction or on a limited scale if the need arises.