Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to retaliate after the Islamic State group launched two chemical attacks near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
The attacks killed a three-year-old girl and wounded over 600 people and causing hundreds more to flee, said Iraqi officials.
“What the Daesh terrorist gangs did in the city of Taza will not go unpunished,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said during a meeting with village elders in Taza on Saturday.
“The perpetrators will pay dearly.”
Security and hospital officials said the latest attack took place early on Sunday in the small town of Taza, which was also struck by a barrage of rockets carrying chemicals three days earlier.
Sameer Wais, whose daughter Fatima was killed in the attack, is a member of a Shiite militia fighting IS in Kirkuk province.
He said he was on duty at the frontline when the attack occurred early in the morning.
“We took her to the clinic and they said that she needed to go to a hospital in Kirkuk. And that’s what we did, we brought her here to the hospital in Kirkuk,” he said.
Wais said his daughter appeared to be doing better the next day so they took her home.
“But by midnight she started to get worse. Her face puffed up and her eyes bulged. Then she turned black and pieces of her skin started to come off,” he said recounting the horror.
By the next morning, Fatima had died, Wais said.
Helmi Hamdi, a nurse at the Taza hospital said hundreds of wounded were suffering from infected burns, suffocation and dehydration.
“There is fear and panic among the women and children,” said Adel Hussein, a local official in Taza.
“They’re calling for the central government to save them,” Hussein said while adding that a German and an American forensics team arrived in the area to test the presence of chemical agents.
The US-led coalition has said that the chemicals IS has used so far include chlorine and a low-grade sulfur mustard which is not very potent.
“It’s a legitimate threat. It’s not a high threat. We’re not, frankly, losing too much sleep over it,” US Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters yesterday.
(With inputs from agencies)