The Iraqi government has informed the United Nations that it has lost control of a former chemical weapons depot to Islamist insurgents affiliated with ISIS, or IS, and cannot carry out its obligations to destroy what’s stored in the compound.
In a letter penned by Iraq’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim, it was revealed that “armed terrorist groups” took over the Muthanna complex on June 11. Located north of Baghdad, the facility was the main center for chemical weapons production prior to the 1991 Gulf War, and is still home to 2,500 rockets containing the lethal nerve agent sarin.
According to the Associated Press, the compound is now in the hands of the Islamic State extremist group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In the letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Alhakim said that Iraqi officials witnessed the intruders looting some of the equipment before the surveillance system was taken offline.
As RT reported previously, ISIS’ rapid gains through northern and western Iraq – the militants also control portions of Syria – have led it to shed part of its name and declare the territory under its control to be a new Islamic state, or caliphate. The group is primarily composed of radical Sunni Muslims, and has won support among those in Iraq disgruntled with the exclusive nature of Iraq’s Shia-dominated central government.
Until the Iraqi government can recover control of the Muthanna facility and stabilize the country’s security situation, Alhakim said it cannot make progress in eliminating the leftover chemical weapons stockpile.
“The Government of Iraq requests the States Members of the United Nations to understand the current inability of Iraq, owing to the deterioration of the security situation, to fulfill its obligations to destroy chemical weapons,” he said, as quoted by Reuters… see more