Militants fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq are bolstering the terror group’s arsenal of weapons with bombs containing hundreds of live scorpions.
IS militants are launching the poisonous creatures into towns and villages located north of the country, according to Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a British military expert who returned from Baghdad last week.
“It’s madness. IS have improvised devices to launch them,” Bretton-Gordon, who is also the former head of chemical and biological weapons for the British Army and Nato, told the Daily Mirror.
"They promote the fact that they are doing it and it creates panic,” he added. “Scorpions are robust – even if they are launched a couple of miles, when the canister breaks thousands are flung out and start crawling all around. Some scorpions are very poisonous, but the main thing is creating fear.”
He said the bombs are not causing casualties but had deep “psychological impact.”
Iraqi officials said the use of similar weapons dates back to 198 AD, when the scorpions were stuffed into ceramic pots and thrown to enemies, defending themselves against the Roman invasion.
Adrienne Mayor, historian and author of the 2004 book, “Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World,” said that soldiers would spit on one end of the scorpions to calm them before they were put into pots.
According to the Daily Mail, the U.S. confirmed last week that it had launched 20 more airstrikes against the Islamic State, including raids near Sinjar, Qaim Ramadi, Mosul and Samarra, and inside the town of Kobane.