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How The Pentagon Got Inside ISIS’ Chemical Weapons Operation—And Ended It




How The Pentagon Got Inside ISIS’ Chemical Weapons Operation—And Ended It

How shady reports of ISIS-made poison gas led the U.S. to a valuable ISIS weapon-maker, who helped bring the whole operation down.

The Kurdish fighters dug in along Highway 47 in Kesik Kupri, Iraq, on January 23, 2015, could hear the truck from far off and knew the attack was coming. The defenders crouched behind their vehicles or squatted along a low ridge, rifles trained on the narrow road. From the ridge to the earthen barrier across the highway were perhaps 500 men, skilled veterans of Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga brigades as well as teenagers and elderly volunteers from neighboring villages who had come in their civilian coats, sneakers and checkered scarves to reclaim their homes from the men of ISIS. In two hard days of combat, they had seized a strategic crossroads and now effectively controlled the main route between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian frontier. The Islamists would do whatever they could to take it back.

The afternoon was nearly spent when the suicide vehicle appeared. The Kurds positioned along the ridge could see it clearly: a red farm truck with steel plates welded to the front for ramming and a trailer bed stacked high with metal tanks. The truck picked up speed as it approached the Kurdish line, and from the ridge the defenders unleashed a volley of rifle fire aimed at the passenger cabin. The fusillade kicked up rows of dust spouts in the nearby field, but some bullets found their mark, pinging against the cab and punching holes in some of the metal tanks. From the back of the truck came a ribbon of greenish smoke, like the contrail of a distant jet.

The dirt berm in the middle of the highway forced the driver to slow for a moment, and that was all the defenders needed. Two Kurdish fighters were waiting with a 35-pound antitank rocket, and they fired the projectile directly into the truck’s side. The vehicle disintegrated in an instant. When the smoke cleared, the truck’s twisted undercarriage lay on the asphalt 50 yards from the impact crater, and metal fragments and bits of the driver’s remains were scattered across the nearby fields.

Full story https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/02/27/red-line-book-excerpt-chemical-weapons-syria-471784

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