ISIS' Chemical Weapon Use: A Serious Threat On The Rise

By Zamawang Almemar

Zamawang Almemar is a former senior consultant for the Department of Defense where she was involved in counter-terrorism efforts that deal with the acquisition and proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. She was born and raised in Iraqi Kurdistan.

With the world watching, ISIS deployed chemical weapons in the Iraqi towns of Sinjar and Taza in February and March of 2016, respectively. Since gaining vast amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria and taking over key chemical facilities, ISIS has acquired a substantial quantity of chemical material that it has weaponized for use. This was confirmed by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at a February 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing.

Chemical weapons use is banned pursuant to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. The international community must respond aggressively to this threat and prevent ISIS’ ability to access chemical raw materials and transform them into weapons. This effort should start with close collaboration and cooperation with forces on the ground that are in direct line of these chemical attacks, namely the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, as well as the Kurdish civilians who are once again victims of chemical attacks.

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