Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek
Washington/Baghdad: Armed Sunni groups, spearheaded by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), took control of the facility where Saddam Hussein allegedly produced his chemical weapons on Thursday, reports said.
Wall Street Journal quoted US government officials as saying that the production facility still contained a stockpile of old weapons.
The Sunni militants, however, will not be able to create a `functional chemical weapon` from the material stockpiled at the al Muthanna complex, the US officials said.
But by capturing Saddam`s weapon stockpile, the ISIS or ISIL (which is seeking a new Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria) has grabbed the attention of the US.
A US State Department spokesperson was quoted saying that the Obama administration was concerned about the seizure of any military site by the ISIL.
Saddam Hussein`s weapon stockpile lie at Muthanna weapons complex, near Lake Tharthar, roughly 70 kilometres northwest of Baghdad. This area is firmly under control of Sunni rebels who have taken control of most of Anbar province and Mosul, Iraq`s second largest city.
On Thursday, Iraqi government forces battled Sunni rebels for control of the country`s biggest refinery as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki waited for a US response to an appeal for air strikes to beat back the threat to Baghdad.
About 10,000 Indians work in Iraq, mostly in areas unaffected by the fighting between the ISIL insurgents and government forces.