By Isabel Coles
ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government said on Saturday it has evidence Islamic State used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against Kurdish peshmerga forces.
The Kurdish region's Security Council said in a statement to Reuters that the peshmerga had taken soil and clothing samples after an Islamic State suicide bombing in northern Iraq in January. It said laboratory analysis showed "the samples contained levels of chlorine that suggested the substance was used in weaponized form."
Chlorine is a choking agent whose use as a chemical weapon dates back to World War One. It is banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.
It was not possible to independently verify the Kurdish allegation.
The statement said the analysis was carried out in a European Union-certified laboratory after the soil and samples were sent by the Kurdish Regional Government to a "partner nation" in the U.S.-led coalition that is fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. A source in the Kurdish Security Council declined to identify the laboratory.
The Jan. 23 suicide car bombing took place on a highway between Mosul and the Syrian border where peshmerga forces were preparing defensive positions after a two-day offensive, the statement said.
The Kurdish source said that the peshmerga fired a rocket at the car carrying the bomb so there were no casualties from the incident, because it exploded before reaching its target.
(Reporting by Isabel Coles; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)