Obama’s red line.

BAGHDAD (AP) — Islamic State militants used chlorine gas during fighting with security forces and Shiite militiamen last month north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said on Friday.

The use of chlorine gas as a weapon adds a new concern to the turmoil in the country. The reports, if confirmed, would be the first time the Sunni extremists attempted to use chlorine since their blitz earlier this year that seized large chunks of territory in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Three Iraqi officials — a senior security official, a local official from the town of Duluiya and an official from the town of Balad — told The Associated Press that the Islamic State group used bombs with chlorine-filled cylinders during clashes in late September in the two towns.

In the attacks, about 40 troops and Shiite militiamen were slightly affected by the chlorine and showed symptoms consistent with chlorine poisoning, such as difficulty in breathing and coughing, the three officials said. The troops were treated in hospital and quickly recovered.

The senior security official said it was most likely that the Islamic State fighters obtained the chlorine from water purification plants located in the areas they had overrun earlier. Iraqi intelligence has indicated that the IS group has some shells filled with chlorine and they are ready to be used, the official also said.

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