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ISIS' Chemical Weapons

Where They Came From, How They are Used, and What Will Come Next

An ISIS flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, January 19, 2016. Ali Hashisho / Reuters

In a February 2016 interview with 60 Minutes, John Brennan, director of the CIA, mentioned that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has, in a number of instances, “used chemical munitions on the battlefield.” This came a few days after James Clapper, director of the United States Intelligence Community, said to a congressional committee that ISIS “has also used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including the blister agent sulfur mustard.” Specifically, ISIS used such munitions in an August 2015 attack on the Kurds in Kobani, although reliable measures of the extent of the damage and casualties are not available.

It wasn’t the first time that such accusations have been raised against ISIS. In early 2015, the journalist Adam Withnall reported on Australian intelligence assessments that ISIS had “seized enough radioactive material from government facilities to suggest it has the capacity to build a large and devastating ‘dirty’ bomb.” In ISIS’ own

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