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Pentagon backtracks on Daesh chemical attack claim

The offending munition landed on Qayyara Air Base, which is being used as a staging area for the expected Mosul operation later this year

The Pentagon has backtracked on a claim that a rocket fired last week by Daesh militants at an Iraqi air base that was hosting US troops was in fact not a chemical weapon at all, USA Today has reported.

Although the Pentagon last week confirmed that Daesh had tried to attack US forces with mustard gas, they have since backpedalled on the claim stating that US Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford's testimony before Congress regarding the event was based on information available at the time.

Since the attack, extensive laboratory tests have purportedly returned with negative results, which therefore suggests that the trace amounts of the sulphur mustard agent was not an accurate indicator of whether Daesh had used chemical weapons.

The offending munition landed on Qayyara Air Base which is about 30 kilometres south of Mosul, Daesh's last major urban holding in Iraq. Qayyarah was recently retaken from Daesh and is now being used as a staging area for the expected Mosul operation later this year.

Even though it turned out to not be a chemical weapon at all, the Pentagon insists that Daesh will be deploying chemical munitions in their defence of Mosul.

"We recognise this [chemical weapon threat] is real…They would love to be able to use chemical weapons against us," Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.

Reuters reported Davis as saying that US troops deployed to the region have the training and equipment they need to defend against chemical attacks and are working to ensure Iraqi Security Forces are prepared and properly equipped as well.

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