Daesh chemical arms expert captured in Iraq: Officials
Iraqi intelligence officials say head of the Daesh terror group’s unit, which is responsible for developing chemical weapons has been arrested in a February raid in the northern part of the country.
The Wednesday announcement came after US officials said last week that American Special Forces had captured a Daesh leader without releasing his name.
Two Iraqi officials, whose names were not mentioned, identified the Takfiri militant as Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, who worked for slain Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s now-defunct Military Industrialization Authority. He is said to be specializing in chemical and biological weapons.
Afari, who is about 50 years old, was arrested in an attack near the town of Tal Afar, the officials said, adding that he is the head of Daesh’s recently established branch for the research and development of chemical arms.
Daesh, which is in control of parts of Iraq, has reportedly been trying to produce chemical weapons and is believed to have formed a special unit for chemical weapons research. Iraqi scientists from the Saddam-era weapons program as well as foreign experts are thought to be working for the terror group.
Iraqi officials are concerned about the effort as Daesh Takfiris could operate and hide chemical laboratories in the areas under their control.
The militants have reportedly used chemical agents on the battlefield in both Iraq and neighboring Syria. However, experts say the terror group cannot launch a huge chemical weapons attack as such an offensive needs proper equipment, materials and a supply-chain to develop enough of the chemical agent.
“More than a symbolic attack seems to me to be beyond the grasp of ISIS (Daesh),” said Dan Kaszeta, a former US Army chemical officer and Department of Homeland Security expert.
Iraq’s Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi has, meanwhile, stressed that the group lacks “chemical capabilities,” noting that their attacks were only meant to “hurt the morale of our fighters.”
Daesh terrorists launched an offensive in Iraq in June 2014 and took control of swathes of the Iraqi territory. The militants have been committing heinous crimes against all ethnic and religious communities in the Arab country, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.
Iraqi army soldiers and fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units are seeking to win back militant-held regions in joint operations.