Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists attacked Syrian army troops with mustard gas in an offensive against a Syrian military airport in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor that borders Iraq, Reuters reported Monday, citing Syrian state media.
The reports did not disclose how many casualties were sustained in the attack on the heavily defended airport located south of Deir al Zor city, whose main neighborhoods are under the group’s control.
"The terrorists fired rockets carrying mustard gas," a statement on state owned Ikhbariyah television station and quoted by Reuters said.
Reuters could not independently verify the media reports.
The Syrian army backed by heavy Russian air strikes was able last January to drive back the jihadists from several villages near the airport but has so far failed to dislodge them, according to the news agency.
Reports in the past have said that ISIS had used mustard agent in both Syria and Iraq, and CIA chief John Brennan has warned that the jihadists have used chemical weapons and have the capability to make small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas.
The question has been asked how ISIS managed to get its hands on chemical weapons in the first place. One possible answer is that in June 2014, ISIS seized a weapons complex thought to have held hundreds of tons of lethal sarin and mustard gasses: the al-Muthanna complex, located 60 miles north of Baghdad, which was a central base of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program.
There has also been some speculation that ISIS got its hands on chemical stockpiles that belonged to former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
A former intelligence official of Qaddafi’s recently said in a television interview that ISIS and other terrorist groups had gotten hold of the chemical weapons that had remained in Libya and smuggled them somehow to Syria.