US-led coalition captures IS ‘emir of chemical weapons’ in air strikes

  • AFP, Washington
  • Updated: Mar 11, 2016 11:01 IST
Smoke rising from airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants near the Khazer checkpoint outside Erbil in northern Iraq. (AP file photo)

The US-led coalition carried out the first air strikes on Islamic State chemical weapons sites, the Pentagon has said, acting on crucial information from a captured senior insurgent.

The successful multiple bombings came as a result of intelligence from Sulayman Dawud al-Bakkar, also known as Abu Dawud, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said on Thursday, confirming the name of the IS group operative said to be a chemical weapons expert for the extremists.

His capture by US special forces in February -- Dawud was transferred on Thursday into Iraqi custody after interrogation -- appears to be a major boon in the fight against the IS group in Iraq and Syria, and Cook said it had yielded almost immediate results.

Cook described Dawud as “ISIL’s emir of chemical and traditional weapons manufacturing.”

“His capture removed a key ISIL leader from the battlefield, and provided the coalition with important information about ISIL’s chemical weapons capabilities,” Cook said, using an alternative acronym for the IS extremists.

“Through Dawud, the coalition learned details about ISIL’s chemical weapon facilities and production, as well as the people involved.

“The information has resulted in multiple coalition airstrikes that have disrupted and degraded ISIL’s ability to produce chemical weapons and will continue to inform our operations in the future.”

On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis declined to confirm that US forces had captured an IS chemical weapons expert.

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