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Islamic State recruiting chemical weapons experts, Australia's foreign minister says

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop claims Islamic State militants have used chlorine as a weapon. Bishop adds that 'IS' is also recruiting experts in an attempt to develop far more serious chemical weapons.

Bishop told an international forum on weapons control in the western Australian city of Perth that 'IS' posed "one of the gravest security threats we face today."

Referring to IS by its Arabic acronym Daesh, she said IS was recruiting "highly technically trained professionals," including experts from the West, for its campaign in Syria and iraq.

"Daesh is likely to have amongst its tens of thousands of recruits the technical expertise necessary to further refine precursor materials and build chemical weapons, Bishop said, adding that its efforts were "far more serious" that once presumed.

Julie Bishop Porträt

IS "gravest security threat," says Bishop

Clothing and soil samples

Her comments follow allegations by Iraqi Kurdish authorities in March - based on soil and clothing samples - that 'IS' had used chlorine gas against their peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq in January.

In her speech to a forum of the anti-proliferation Australia Group, Bishop said 'IS' intentions went far beyond the "conventional wisdom" it only aspired to obtain chemical agents.

She referred to past UN inquires into the alleged

use of toxic chemicals by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assar

over the past four years, adding that the world must remain vigilant.

Chlorine is a choking agent used as a chemical weapon during World War One. It was banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Ipj/jlw (AFP, Reuters)

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