The Halabja poison gas attack was a chemical weapons attack at the closing days of the Iraq-Iran war. These weapons were used by Iraqi government forces in the Kurdish town of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan.
This was an event that ishistorically separate from the Operation Anfal, as the Iranian troops allied to the rebels were also involved in the Halabja events. Operation Anfal was a campaign directed by Saddam Hussein to frighten the Kurdish rural population and to end with the peshmerga rebellion by brutal means.
This attack lasted five hours. It began early in the evening of March 16, 1988, following a series of indiscriminateconventional attacks composed of rockets and nopalm (combination of aluminum salts of nophthenic, and palmitic acids). Just when Iraqi MiG and Mirage aircraft began dropping chemical bombs on Halabja residential areas. According to some regional Kurdish rebel commanders, Iraqi aircraft conducted up to 14 bombings in sorties of seven to eight planes each; they also saw helicopter coordinating theoperation. Eyewitnesses said clouds of smoke were growing upward “white, black, and then yellow”, rising as a column about 150ft (46m) in the air.
Those who escaped death have developed respiratory or visual problems, also reproductive disorders because of the cocktail of chemicals dropped on the city.
According to some reports up to 75% of the victims were women and children. The injuredsurvivors seen by reporters showed the classic symptoms of the mustard gas poisoning; ugly skin lesions and breathing difficulties. Some residents survived by covering their faces with damp cloths and taking t the mountains around the Halabja.
Kaveh Golestan was the Iranian photographer to take the first pictures of this event, and he said the following words:
“It was life frozen. Life had stopped,like watching a film and suddenly it hangs on one frame. It was a new kind of death to me. You went into a room, a kitchen and you saw the body of a woman holding a knife where she had been cutting a carrot. (...) The aftermath was worse. Victims were still being brought in. Some villagers came to our chopper. They had 15 or 16 beautiful children, begging us to take them to hospital. So all thepress sat there and we were each handed a child to carry. As we took off, fluid came out of my little girl's mouth and she died in my arms”
Most of the details about the Halabja killings only emerged a few days later. Reports from the city suggested that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's forces had launched the chemical gas attack.
Figures for the final total of dead range from 3,200 people to5,000. Between 7,000 and 10,000 are believed to have been injured in the massacre, which became known as "Bloody Friday".
Initially, the US Defense Intelligence Agency blamed Iran for the attack. Halabja is around eight to 10 miles (14km to 16km) from the Iranian border. However, the majority of evidence indicates that the gas attack was an Iraqi assault against Iranian forces, pro-Iranian Kurdishforces and Halabja's citizens during a major battle.
Although there is some evidence Saddam Hussein's forces had used chemical agents before this date, the attack on Halabja is thought to be the first documented assault using chemicals.
After the city was taken back from the hands of the Iranian and Kurdish forces, Iraqi troops dressed with NBC suits came to Halabja to study the effectiveness oftheir weapons and attacks. The town, filled with unburied dead, was then systematically razed by the Iraqi forces using bulldozers and explosives. In 2003, some 50,000 people lived in the city, compared to some 80,000 in 1988. As of 2008, it is believed there are still undiscovered mass graves in Halabja.
In surveys by local doctors, a higher percentage of medical disorders, miscarriages (14X...