World Bulletin / News Desk
Hayas Surji, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, said ISIL was preparing for an anticipated offensive by Iraqi forces to capture Mosul, which ISIL has controlled since mid-2014.
"We have intelligence that ISIL has brought chemical weapons -- captured from the Syrian regime -- into Mosul," Surji told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
He ruled out the possibility, however, that ISIL militants would use the weapons inside the city.
"But they may use them in surrounding areas," he warned.
Surji went on to put the number of ISIL fighters currently in Mosul at about 4,000.
"Most of the group’s foreign fighters have by now fled to Syria," he asserted.
In mid-2014, ISIL captured Mosul -- Iraq’s second largest city -- along with vast swathes of territory in the country’s northern and western regions.
Recent months have seen the Iraqi army -- backed by a 60-nation coalition led by the U.S. -- retake much territory, especially in the western Anbar province.
Nevertheless, ISIL remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.
Iraqi troops and Kurdish peshmerga fighters have recently captured a number of areas on the outskirts of Mosul, which Iraqi officials have vowed to recapture by year’s end.