Islamic State ‘planned to launch missiles tipped with chemicals’

Iraqi special forces say Islamic State were planning to launch long and short-range missiles tipped with chemical or biological war heads from western Mosul. It follows analysis of material taken by French special forces working with Iraqi units in the city. Sky News was taken to a warehouse and unloading area near the Tigris River, where dozens of missiles were stored alongside makeshift launchers. The weapons, with Russian markings, are thought to have come from Syria. Most were designed to be fired by jets but one, a 10ft-long missile, is a type of Scud. Even fired from a makeshift launcher, it could carry its lethal payload tens of kilometres, according to military advisers.

Daesh (IS) wanted to use these weapons and had spent a long time modifying them

Brigadier Ali of the Counter Terrorism Service

Brigadier Ali of the Counter Terrorism Service, in charge of the weapons discovery, told Sky he believed the production of the chemical weapons had been halted by the start of the offensive on Mosul and the targeting of IS fighters by coalition planes and drones. “Daesh (IS) wanted to use these weapons and had spent a long time modifying,” he said. Allegations of chemical weapons use, particularly chlorine, in the Syrian conflict have been levelled at all sides. But the discovery of a substance perhaps even more lethal than chlorine is a new and frightening development. A year ago Sky News revealed the existence of a “jihadi university” in the Syrian IS stronghold of Raqqa, where a training programme for modifying missiles and IEDs was well established.