A two-month-old baby is being treated in hospital for possible exposure to chemical weapons after an attack in Mosul thought to have been carried out by ISIS.
The baby is one of 12 people, including women and children, who have been treated since March 1 after the attack where ISIS terrorists are fighting off an offensive by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, the United Nations said on Saturday.
Although it is not known who is to blame for the attack, the mortars were apparently fired from ISIS held west Mosul.
It is the first chemical attack in the battle for the ISIS stronghold.
The U.N.’s World Health Organisation has activated ‘an emergency response plan to safely treat men, women and children who may be exposed to the highly toxic chemical,’ with partners and local health authorities, the agency said in a statement.
It said all 12 patients had been received since March 1 for treatment which they are undergoing in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, east of Mosul.
Four of them are showing ‘severe signs associated with exposure to a blister agent’. The patients were exposed to the chemical agents in the eastern side of Mosul.
According to the BBC, ISIS have long been suspected of making and using crude chemical weapons in territory it controls in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that five children and two women were receiving treatment for exposure to chemical agents.
The ICRC statement did not say which side used the chemical agents that caused blisters, redness in the eyes, irritation, vomiting and coughing.
Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on February 19. The eastern side remains within reach of the militants’ rockets and mortar shells.
Defeating ISIS in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, over parts of Iraq and Syria.
The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, called for an investigation.
‘This is horrible. If the alleged use of chemical weapons is confirmed, this is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime, regardless of who the targets or the victims of the attacks are,’ she said in a statement.
As the battle continues to regain the ISIS stronghold, hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes on the western side of Mosul.
Iraqi special forces have lost soldiers as the offensive continues today.
Security forces are looking to recapture the western side, which has remained a stronghold for ISIS.