The United Nations warned that the alleged use of chemical weapons in Mosul, if confirmed, would be a war crime and a serious violation of international humanitarian law, according to a statement released Saturday.
“This is horrible,” Lise Grande, the humanitarian coordinator in Iraq said in the statement, “there is never justification – none whatsoever – for the use of chemical weapons.”
The alleged attack occurred this week in eastern Mosul, an area declared fully liberated by Iraqi forces in January. The attack hit a neighborhood along the Tigris River – which roughly divides the city in two.
Doctors in an urgent care hospital in the nearby city of Irbil say they began receiving patients showing symptoms of chemical weapons exposure on Thursday.
The total number of civilians displaced from Mosul has risen sharply over the past days and exceeded 200,000 on Sunday, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The displaced are fleeing the fighting between U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants who have controlled the northern Iraqi city since 2014.
The IOM’s Mosul Displacement Tracking Matrix showed the total number of people displaced form Mosul since the start of the offensive on Islamic State in the city in October exceeding 206,000 on Sunday, versus 164,000 on Feb. 26.