- The Washington Times - Friday, August 14, 2015

The U.S. is investigating what it says are “credible” reports that the Islamic State militant group used mustard gas in an attack against Kurdish peshmerga fighters this week, causing several of them to fall ill, U.S. officials in three separate offices of the Obama administration said Thursday. 

All three officials emphasized that more intelligence is being gathered on the incident that reportedly occurred near the town of Makhoum in northern Iraq. 

While there have been reports posted on social media about the incident, the officials told  CNN they now have independent information that has led them to determine there was a use of chemical weapons. 

The officials stressed the intelligence indicated it was likely a small amount of chemical agent and a low concentration that was used. 

A Germany Ministry of Defense spokesman told CNN it cannot confirm or rule out that there was a chemical attack in the region where German military advisers train peshmerga forces. 

One senior U.S. official said the group fired at peshmerga fighters last week, and the attack produced a small number of injuries with “wounds consistent with a blister producing-agent,” CNN reported. 

The U.S. believes the militants most likely used either mortar or rocket shells to deliver the chemical agent. 

Those who fell ill after the attack had symptoms of breathing problems associated with mustard gas, not chlorine gas, which is another chemical agent believed to have been used by the Assad regime on civilians in Syria. 

Now U.S. officials are focused on figuring out exactly what happened in the attack, and if mustard gas was used, how the terrorist group obtained it. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mustard gas, also known as sulfur mustard, is a chemical warfare agent. The agent was developed during World War I and was banned by treaty in 1993.

While it is usually not fatal, according to the CDC, it can cause blistering of the skin, eye pain and blindness, as well as respiratory problems.

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