Baghdad: At least 14 members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group were killed near Baghdad when a rocket whose warhead they were filling with chlorine gas exploded.

Iraqi security officials said seven more IS militants were injured in the incident, which occurred near the town of al-Dhuluiya, about 90 km north of Baghdad.

Al-Dhuluiya was also where four members of the Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen suffered symptoms of asphyxiation after inhaling chlorine gas released by two improvised explosive devices.

It was the first time that chlorine has been used as a weapon in Iraq, although it is not uncommon in neighbouring Syria, where the regime’s use of it has been denounced by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Meanwhile, Iraqi troops killed 18 jihadists and destroyed five of their vehicles in clashes at the Biji refinery, Iraq’s largest.

At the same time, Kurdish peshmerga troops regained control of three villages in Qara Teba, in the eastern Diyala province, which had been overrun by the IS. Three IS militants and four Kurdish soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

These clashes came a few hours after US warplanes launched their first bombing raids at IS positions near Baghdad since an international conference wrapped in Paris Monday after a number of world leaders pledged to defeat and destroy the IS.