Iraq troops face ISIS chemical attacks in final battle for Mosul

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for Iraq's Joint Operations Command, on Tuesday told a news conference in Baghdad that ISIS terrorists now control just over 10 per cent of the west Mosul, Telegraph reported on Thursday.

Facing defeat, ISIS has become increasingly ruthless in its attempts to slow its opponents' progress. Since April, the terror group has regularly used poison gas against Iraqi troops, according to officers and soldiers.

The chemicals, believed to be chlorine or mustard gas, are launched in mortar rounds or released from improvised explosive devices fashioned out of soft drink bottles that are set off by the retreating insurgents.

The soldiers fighting in Hay al Aiqtisadiiyn belong to the elite Emergency Response Division (ERD) that is advancing in Mosul's northwest, as the Iraqi military is gradually tightening the noose around the Old City, the historic core on the west bank.

The elite Iraqi Special Operations Forces also fighting in Mosul have regularly been targeted since April, sources say.

In a base outside the city, ERD sapper Majid Najid carefully unwraps a blanket from a red waste bin.

Cautiously, he lifts one of the glass bottles that lie at the bottom.

His explosive ordinance disposal team found the stash in an ISIS bomb making factory in the 17 Tammuz neighbourhood adjacent to Hay al Aiqtisadiiyn.

A further stash was found in the Zinjili area closer to the city center. Often wrapped in plastic to avoid leaking, the bottles are attached to a fuse.

They were designed to be indiscriminate chemical booby traps.

"ISIS fighters place the bottles close to the our forces, then light the fuse and quickly run away. The gas from one bottle can spread through a whole neighbourhood," says Mr Najid.

International law prohibits the use of chemical weapons such as poison gas. But ISIS has repeatedly flouted the rules of war, killing thousands of prisoners and holding Mosul's population hostage as human shields.

The widespread use of gas is the latest brutal transgression by the cornered jihadists.

"ISIS is using chemical weapons because it is losing the battle. They will use it in the Old City too, it is their final bastion," says Lt Col Muhanned.