While Iraq’s military continues to lose in the face of any organized resistance, the Shi’ite militias in the nation continue to push into ISIS territory in various parts of the country, this time targeting the relatively ordinary town of Bashir, in Kirkuk Province.
Bashir’s primary claim to fame is that it is the site from which ISIS launched a deadly chemical weapons attack against neighboring Taza Khurmatu, a strike which killed three children and wounded hundreds of civilians.
ISIS is believed to have a significant arsenal of rudimentary chemical weapons, mostly mustard agents, and a large supply of empty chemical shells looted from both Iraq and Syria’s defunct programs. The weapons are not considered militarily significant on the battlefield, but have sparked panic in targeted areas, and an exodus of refugees away from the front lines.
Taza Khurmatu is in the middle of an important oil-producing region, and it’s unsurprising that the Iraqi government would want to see ISIS pushed back enough that they can’t directly target the town again, as the previous incident not only sickened hundreds, but led thousands to flee deeper into Iraqi Kurdistan or Iraqi central government territory.n
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