By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
March 30, 2007 – Al Qaeda's use of chlorine gas against civilians and use of children as suicide bombers highlights the terror organization's barbarity, a Joint Staff spokesman said here today. Al Qaeda extremists in Iraq are using chlorine canisters and chlorine-carrying trucks to attack civilian targets, said Army Maj. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, Joint Staff deputy director for operations.
On March 23, Barbero said, Iraqi police foiled an attack in Ramadi that could have caused catastrophic casualties. The police intercepted a truck carrying 5,000 gallons of chlorine and two tons of explosives.
On March 28, two chlorine-laden trucks exploded outside the Fallujah military operations center. The attack injured 14 U.S. troops and 57 Iraqis.
"I strongly believe that this use of chlorine should not be dismissed simply as a new tactic or an emerging trend," Barbero said. "Chlorine is a poison gas being used on the Iraqi people. Before these attacks, the last time poison gas was used on the Iraqi people was by Saddam Hussein."
Al Qaeda in Iraq and related Sunni extremists are using this weapon against the Sunni population of Anbar province. "We have Sunni extremists attacking innocent Sunnis with a poison gas," Barbero said.
Coalition officials see the escalation as a response to the Iraqi people's growing sentiment against the terror organization. Al Qaeda is trying to intimidate the people of the province, Barbero said.
Its actions show that al Qaeda in Iraq is not an "honorable resistance" aimed at "driving out the infidels," the general said.
The terrorists continue to use children to launch attacks. On March 28, Iraqi police went after a suspicious vehicle in Haditha. "As they drove past a 12-to14-year-old boy riding a bicycle, a bomb in the boy's backpack detonated, killing him instantly," Barbero said.
"These acts - the use of poison gas and the use of children as weapons - are unacceptable in any civilized society and demonstrate the truly dishonorable nature of this enemy," he said.
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