Seven exposed to toxic agents near Mosul

As growing numbers of residents flee fighting between insurgents and Iraqi military forces seeking to recapture the IS-held western half of Iraq's second largest city, security units have been transporting civilians to government-run camps and weeding out IS infiltrators.

Special forces Brigadier General Haider al-Obeidi said clearing operations were ongoing in the area and his forces were close to linking up with the militarised federal police forces who were pushing up along the western bank of the Tigris river.

IS fighters have hunkered down deep inside the city, and while Iraqi forces are still advancing steadily, the battle is expected to get tougher the farther they venture towards the centre.

The statement did not specify whether the seven were injured in one or more attacks, how the chemical weapons were delivered, or who was responsible.

At least 12 civilians have been injured after a chemical attack in the Iraqi city of Mosul, marking the first known instance that chemical weapons have been used in the battle for the Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold.

Major General Jones said: "We are killing Daesh at a rate that they simply can't sustain".

"The manager of the hospital told us when these patients came in, the emanated a very strong odour, which is one of the side effects of being affected by these chemical gases".

If they defeat Islamic State in Mosul, that would crush the Iraq wing of the caliphate declared by the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014.

"We have no food, we didn't even have any rice".

"The stories of the survivors are heart-breaking", said Thomas Lothar Weiss, Iraq Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in a press release.

The battle for Mosul has killed and wounded several thousand people since it started on October 17, according to aid agencies.

Iraqi forces, including special operations forces and federal police units, launched an attack on the western part of Mosul almost two weeks ago to dislodge IS.

Some are unable to leave because IS uses them as human shields, while others decide against exposing themselves to crossfire or leaving their property unprotected.

  • Leroy Wright