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US: Tests show mustard gas traces after IS attack...Military exercises with South Korea halted...Washington wildfires grow

By The Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 21, 2015 at 11:21 a.m.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior U.S. military officer says preliminary tests show traces of the chemical agent sulfur mustard on mortars that Islamic State militants used to attack Kurdish forces in Iraq. The chief of staff for military operations in Iraq and Syria says the field testing isn't conclusive, so final tests are underway to get the full make-up of the chemicals on the fragments. U.S. officials have been looking into reports that Islamic State militants used mustard gas in the Aug. 11 attack. Similar reports surfaced in July.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. defense officials say a spike in tensions between North and South Korea has prompted the U.S. to halt an annual military exercise that began Monday. The exercise with South Korea was scheduled to end next Friday. North Korea has criticized the drills, calling them a preparation for invasion. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered his troops to "enter a wartime state" and be ready for any military operations, according to the official Korean Central News.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) — Two female soldiers have become the first women to complete the Army's rigorous Ranger School. First Lt. Shaye Haver (HAY'-vur) and Capt. Kristen Griest (gryst) graduated alongside 94 male soldiers today at Fort Benning, Georgia. While they are now Army Rangers, they are not able to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, since women are not yet eligible for the elite special operations unit. Officials expect that will happen eventually.

TWISP, Wash. (AP) — A complex of wildfires in Washington state that killed three firefighters has exploded in size. Fire officials say it's grown by more than 100 square miles in a day, to just over 252 square miles. A fire base camp has been told to be prepared to evacuate. At least 10 blazes are burning in north-central Washington's Okanogan (oh-kah-NAH'-guhn) County alone, where entire towns have emptied.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Two 13-year-old Wisconsin girls have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted homicide in a 2014 stabbing attack on another girl. The suburban Milwaukee girls are accused of luring their friend into the woods to stab her as a sacrifice to the fictitious horror character Slender Man. The victim survived 19 stab wounds, including one that doctors say narrowly missed a major artery near her heart.

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