U.S. military officials are confirming that American forces have captured a top ISIS chemical weapons manufacturer and he has been transferred to Iraqi custody.
From The Washington Post:
Sulayman Dawud al-Bakkar, an Islamic State fighter apparently responsible for manufacturing chemical weapons, was transferred to Iraqi custody Thursday after being held by U.S. forces for roughly a month.
Al-Bakkar, also known as Abu Dawud, was captured in U.S. special operations raid in February. The raid was carried out by the Expeditionary Targeting Force–a unit that was deployed to Iraq in recent months with specific orders to capture and kill high value Islamic State fighters throughout the region.
It was unclear where Abu Dawud was held while in U.S. custody. U.S. officials have stressed that their intent after capturing ISIS fighters is to transfer them to local authorities as quickly as possible.
“His capture removed a key ISIL leader from the battlefield, and provided the coalition with important information about ISIL’s chemical weapons capabilities. Dawud was transferred earlier today into the custody of the Government of Iraq,” said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook in an emailed statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State.
According to Cook, intelligence gleaned from Dawud “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.”
While U.S. officials would not confirm the Islamic State has, in fact, used chemical weapons against its opponents, there are numerous instances where local forces have reported coming under attack from chemical agents–especially in northern Iraq. According to a report in Reuters, Islamic State forces fired 107mm rockets loaded with a “poisonous substance” at a town in Iraqi Kurdistan, wounding 40 earlier this week.
Dawud is the second Islamic State fighter captured by U.S. forces. Last year, a U.S. raid in Syria captured Umm Sayyaf the wife of a high level Islamic State commander. Sayyaf has since been charged in a U.S. federal court.
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