Iraqi Islamists seize Saddam’s former chemical weapons facility

In its drive across Iraq, ISIS has occupied the Al Muthanna complex, 50 km north of Baghdad, which housed Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons store, mainly mustard gas, sarin and VX. The facility was extensively bombed in the 1991 Gulf War and UN inspectors subsequently destroyed equipment and stockpiles, but the remainder was extensively looted, according to a CIA report in 2007. The most dangerous have been declared to the UN and sealed in bunkers. But areas of the compound “pose a threat to civilians and potential black marketers.”

Friday, June 20, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psak confirmed, the seizure of the Muthanna site by ISIS. “We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site” by the group, she said, but added: “We do not believe that the complex contains CW materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to safely move them.”

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