The United States military and law enforcement scientists are investigating reports that the terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are using a chemical weapon against the Iraqi military, according to Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday. The ISIS fighters are allegedly using the deadly weapon of mass destruction (WMD) chlorine gas. "I am not in a position to confirm it, but I can tell you that we take these allegations very, very seriously," Kerry told reporters during a press briefing on Friday.
According to reports from the Middle East news media, about a dozen Iraqi police officers so far have been diagnosed to be poisoned by chlorine gas, which many believe is the first confirmed case of chemical weapon use by ISIS on the battlefield. "These allegations are extremely serious and we are seeking additional information in order to be able to determine whether or not we can confirm it," Kerry said.
Deadly chlorine gas attacks the human respiratory system and it usually leads to a painful and slow death by asphyxiation of its victims. Historically, it was the German Army during World War I who first used the gas in 1915 against the French troops holed up in their trenches. When the gas covered the trenches, soldiers began to complain about excruciating pains in their chests coupled with burning sensations in their throats. They had no idea they had been subjected to a deadly chemical attack.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest during his daily briefing said on Friday that the U.S. will dispatch investigators on the ground in an effort to "analyze what exactly happened and try to get to the bottom of these reports."
The use of any chemical weapon is "an abhorrent act", said Kerry, adding that the allegations underscore the importance of the work that the U.S. is currently engaged in. "It will not change our strategy," the top U.S. diplomat said. "It obviously can affect tactical decisions within that strategy, but our fundamental strategy remains absolutely clear."
The first chemical weapon ever used was chlorine gas. The gas causes damage to the lungs and throught and has an effect on a person's eyes and nose. High concentrations and prolonged exposure it can cause death by asphyxiation. However, if trained properly military and police can use simple countermeasures when exposed such as covering the mouth and nose with a damp cloth is effective at reducing the effect of the gas.
Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an editor for ConservativeBase.com, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a contributor to KGAB radio news, a Fox News affiliate. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at St. Peter's University and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.