Baghdad – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed on Saturday to retaliate against the Islamic State group after it launched a chemical attack on a town near Kirkuk.
The suspected mustard gas attack on Taza that left a 3-year-old girl dead “will not go unpunished”, the premier said in a statement.A large number of rockets were fired on Taza on Wednesday from the nearby village of Bashir, which is held by the jihadists.Intelligence experts are still analysing samples but local officials believe mustard agent was used in the attack.
On Saturday, an Iranian delegation visited Taza, which lies just south of the city of Kirkuk and around 220km north of Baghdad.Abadi promised that medical support would be provided to the town, where hundreds of people received care following the chemical attack.Hundreds of people attended the funeral on Friday of Fatima Samir, the girl who died of wounds sustained during the attack.
Some of the mourners carried placards demanding protection.The Iraqi air force carried out a strike on Bashir overnight and Abadi promised a ground operation to retake the village from IS soon, pro-government militia commander Abu Ridha al-Najjar said.
Bashir lies in an area that is officially under federal administration but is controlled by Kurdish forces that de facto expanded their autonomous region on the back of the jihadists’ 2014 offensive.
Tension has been high between Kurdish forces and Shi’ite militias in the area, impeding military cooperation against IS.