By Kristina Wong - 02/16/16 05:14 PM EST
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is blasting the administration for not doing more against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria after The Hill reported the group used chemical weapons against the Kurds, a U.S. ally.
"Two U.S. Defense officials have confirmed what we’ve feared for months: ISIS is using chemical weapons, and they’re targeting American-supported fighters," he said in a statement.
Defense officials confirmed to The Hill that ISIS used chemical weapons against the Kurdish peshmerga in an attack last August, after completing testing on mortar fragments from the attack.
The confirmation came after intelligence community leaders said publicly that ISIS has used chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, but did not say where. Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan said on Sunday that ISIS has the ability to manufacture chemical weapons using chlorine and mustard gas.
McCarthy said ISIS has remained resistant to the administration's "halfhearted attempts to degrade and destroy it."
"In the time ISIS has had to solidify its position, the terrorist organization has developed chemical weapons, including Sulfur mustard, a blister agent, and mustard gas," he said.
"This proliferation and increased use of chemical weapons is dangerous and violates all standards of humanity. The longer we allow ISIS to exist, the more ISIS can develop these weapons and use them against our allies or potentially even American troops in the region," he said.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at a security conference on Friday that ISIS would like to use chemical weapons against the U.S., but did not specify whether he meant the homeland or troops stationed abroad.
The U.S. has about 3,700 troops in Iraq. Several hundred are stationed about 40 miles away from where the August attack against the peshmerga occurred.
More than 60 peshmerga fighters suffered injuries, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government, a U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS.
The U.S. also has about 50 U.S. troops in Syria.