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US Military: IS Expert In Chemical Weapons Killed

A chemical weapons expert with the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Iraq has been killed in a coalition airstrike, the US military has said.

Abu Malik’s training provided IS with “expertise to pursue a chemical weapons capability”, a statement said.

He served as a chemical weapons engineer under former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, before joining al-Qaeda in Iraq and then IS, the US said.

The US-led coalition has carried out nearly 2,000 strikes against IS.

Mr Malik was killed in a raid near Mosul on 24 January, according to the US.

His death is expected to “degrade and disrupt” IS and weaken their ability to produce and use chemical weapons, the US military said.

There have been frequent reports of IS using chlorine gas, but no evidence the group has accumulated a significant chemical weapons cache.

Last year, Iraqi police officers suffered from dizziness and vomiting after clashing with jihadist fighters north of Baghdad. It was thought chlorine gas may have been to blame.

Chlorine gas is classified as a “choking agent”, burning the lungs when inhaled in large quantities. But it is nowhere near as dangerous as nerve gases.

Islamic State controls large areas of Syria, where the government has been destroying its chemical weapons, but not all the stockpiles have been accounted for.

The US and its allies has been targeting IS positions in Iraq and Syria since last August, destroying military equipment and killing the group’s fighters.

Military chiefs are hoping they can re-take the key city of Mosul with the help of Iraqi forces this spring.

But there are concerns that Iraqi troops are not yet ready to do the fighting needed on the ground.