BAGHDAD: Iraq’s defence ministry said on Saturday it has broken up an Al-Qaeda cell that was working to produce poison gas for attacks within the country as well as in Europe and North America.
The group of five people built two facilities in Baghdad to produce sarin and mustard gas, using instructions from another Al-Qaeda group, spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told a news conference.
The members of the cell were prepared to launch attacks domestically, and also had a network to smuggle the toxins to neighboring countries, and further afield to Europe and North America, Askari said.
The arrest of the cell members was possible because of cooperation between Iraqi and foreign intelligence services, he added.
The United Nations said last month that sarin nerve gas may have been used by rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria.
Iraq and Syria share a 600-kilometer border, and officials have warned that Al-Qaeda-linked Sunni militants opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad have set up camp in Iraq’s western desert region.