Halabja poison gas attack
Overview
 
The Halabja poison gas attack (Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

: Kîmyabarana Helebce), also known as Halabja massacre or Bloody Friday, was a genocidal
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 massacre against the Kurdish people
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 that took place on March 16, 1988, during the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War, when chemical weapons were used by the Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i government forces in the Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 town of Halabja
Halabja
Halabja , is a Kurdish town in Northern Iraq, located about north-east of Baghdad and 8–10 miles from the Iranian border....

 in Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

.

The attack killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people, and injured around 7,000 to 10,000 more, most of them civilian
Civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

s; thousands more died of complications
Complication (medicine)
Complication, in medicine, is an unfavorable evolution of a disease, a health condition or a medical treatment. The disease can become worse in its severity or show a higher number of signs, symptoms or new pathological changes, become widespread throughout the body or affect other organ systems. A...

, disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s, and birth defects in the years after the attack.
Encyclopedia
The Halabja poison gas attack (Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

: Kîmyabarana Helebce), also known as Halabja massacre or Bloody Friday, was a genocidal
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 massacre against the Kurdish people
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 that took place on March 16, 1988, during the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War, when chemical weapons were used by the Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i government forces in the Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 town of Halabja
Halabja
Halabja , is a Kurdish town in Northern Iraq, located about north-east of Baghdad and 8–10 miles from the Iranian border....

 in Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

.

The attack killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people, and injured around 7,000 to 10,000 more, most of them civilian
Civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

s; thousands more died of complications
Complication (medicine)
Complication, in medicine, is an unfavorable evolution of a disease, a health condition or a medical treatment. The disease can become worse in its severity or show a higher number of signs, symptoms or new pathological changes, become widespread throughout the body or affect other organ systems. A...

, disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s, and birth defects in the years after the attack. The incident, which has been officially defined as an act of genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 against the Kurdish people
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 in Iraq, was and still remains the largest chemical weapons attack directed against a civilian-populated area in history.

The Halabja attack has been recognized as a separate event from the Anfal Genocide
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

 that was also conducted against the Kurdish people
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 by the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

. The Iraqi High Criminal Court recognized the Halabja massacre as an act of genocide on March 1, 2010, a decision welcomed by the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

. The attack was also condemned as a crime against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

 by the Parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

.

Background

It was an event that is historically separate from the Operation Anfal
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

 (the 1986-1989 campaign conducted by Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

's regime's in order to terrorize the Kurdish rural
Rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

 population and end the peshmerga
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

 rebellions by brutal means), as the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian troops allied to the rebels were also involved in the Halabja events. Nevertheless, the victims of the tragedy are often included in accounting the deaths attributable to the Anfal campaign, which was characterised by the widespread and indiscriminate use of chemical weapons by Iraq.

Chemical attacks

The five-hour attack began early in the evening of March 16, 1988, following a series of indiscriminate conventional (rocket and napalm
Napalm
Napalm is a thickening/gelling agent generally mixed with gasoline or a similar fuel for use in an incendiary device, primarily as an anti-personnel weapon...

) attacks, when Iraqi MiG
Mikoyan
Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG , or RSK MiG, is a Russian joint stock company. Formerly Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau , then simply Mikoyan, it is a military aircraft design bureau, primarily designing fighter aircraft...

 and Mirage
Mirage (aircraft)
Mirage is the name of a series of delta-winged fighters and bombers that have been produced by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, flown by the French Air Force, and widely exported to foreign counties.* Dassault Mirage III...

 aircraft began dropping chemical bombs on Halabja's residential areas, far from the besieged Iraqi army base on the outskirts of the town. According to regional Kurdish rebel commanders, Iraqi aircraft conducted up to 14 bombings in sorties of seven to eight planes each; helicopters coordinating the operation were also seen. Eyewitnesses told of clouds of smoke billowing upward "white, black and then yellow"', rising as a column about 150 feet (45.7 m) in the air.

Survivors said the gas at first smelled of sweet apples; they said people died in a number of ways, suggesting a combination of toxic chemicals (some of the victims "just dropped dead" while others "died of laughing"; while still others took a few minutes to die, first "burning and blister
Blister
A blister is a small pocket of fluid within the upper layers of the skin, typically caused by forceful rubbing , burning, freezing, chemical exposure or infection. Most blisters are filled with a clear fluid called serum or plasma...

ing" or coughing up green vomit). It is believed that Iraqi forces used multiple chemical agents during the attack, including mustard gas and the nerve agent
Nerve agent
Nerve agents are a class of phosphorus-containing organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to organs...

s sarin
Sarin
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [2CHO]CH3PF. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687...

, tabun
Tabun
Tabun may refer to:* Tabun Cave, a cave near Tabun, Israel where remains of Neanderthal Man were found.* A tabun oven, a clay oven used to make tabun bread...

 and VX
VX (nerve agent)
VX, IUPAC name O-ethyl S-[2-ethyl] methylphosphonothioate, is an extremely toxic substance whose only application is in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687...

; some sources have also pointed to the blood agent
Blood agent
A blood agent is a toxic chemical agent that affects the body by being absorbed into the blood. They are fast-acting, potentially lethal poisons that typically manifest at room temperature as volatile colorless gases with a faint odor. Blood agents are either cyanide- or...

 hydrogen cyanide (most of the wounded taken to hospitals in the Iranian capital Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 were suffering from mustard gas exposure).

Discovery

The first images after the attack were taken by Iranian journalists who later spread the pictures in Iranian newspapers; a film of the atrocity was also shown worldwide via news programmes. Some of those first pictures were taken by Iranian photographer Kaveh Golestan
Kaveh Golestan
Kāveh Golestān Taghavi Shirazi , was an Iranian photojournalist and artist. Golestan was educated at Millfield School in Somerset, England....

. Recalling the scenes at Halabja, Golestan described the scene to Guy Dinmore of the Financial Times
Financial Times
The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

: he was about eight kilometres outside Halabja with a military helicopter when the Iraqi MiG-23
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is considered to belong to the Soviet third generation jet fighter category, along with similarly aged Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 "Foxbat"...

 fighter-bomber
Fighter-bomber
A fighter-bomber is a fixed-wing aircraft with an intended primary role of light tactical bombing and also incorporating certain performance characteristics of a fighter aircraft. This term, although still used, has less significance since the introduction of rockets and guided missiles into aerial...

s flew in. "It was not as big as a nuclear mushroom cloud
Mushroom cloud
A mushroom cloud is a distinctive pyrocumulus mushroom-shaped cloud of condensed water vapor or debris resulting from a very large explosion. They are most commonly associated with nuclear explosions, but any sufficiently large blast will produce the same sort of effect. They can be caused by...

, but several smaller ones: thick smoke," he said. He was shocked by the scenes on his arrival in the town, though he had seen gas attacks before during the brutal Iran-Iraq War:


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 the press 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.


Saddam Hussein's government officially blamed Iran for the attack. The international response at the time was muted and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 even suggested Iran was responsible. The United States, who, at the time, were allies of Iraq in their war with Iran, said the images could not be verified to be the responsibility of Iraq.

Destruction and partial restoration of the city

After the city was retaken from the hands of the Iranian and Kurdish forces, Iraqi troops in NBC suit
NBC suit
An NBC suit is a type of military personal protective equipment designed to provide protection against direct contact with and contamination by radioactive, biological or chemical substances, and provides protection from contamination with radioactive materials and some types of radiation,...

s came to Halabja to study the effectiveness of their weapons and attacks. The town, littered with unburied dead, was then systematically razed by the Iraqi forces using bulldozer
Bulldozer
A bulldozer is a crawler equipped with a substantial metal plate used to push large quantities of soil, sand, rubble, etc., during construction work and typically equipped at the rear with a claw-like device to loosen densely-compacted materials.Bulldozers can be found on a wide range of sites,...

s and explosives. It was partially rebuilt by the returning Kurds later, even as chemical weapons contaminated
Contamination
Contamination is the presence of a minor and unwanted constituent in material, physical body, natural environment, at a workplace, etc.-Specifics:"Contamination" also has more specific meanings in science:...

 the food and water supplies, soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

, and animal populations. 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 grave
Mass grave
A mass grave is a grave containing multiple number of human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. There is no strict definition of the minimum number of bodies required to constitute a mass grave, although the United Nations defines a mass grave as a burial site which...

s in Halabja.

Medical and genetic consequences

In surveys by local doctors, a higher percentage of medical disorders, miscarriage
Miscarriage
Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or fetus is incapable of surviving independently, generally defined in humans at prior to 20 weeks of gestation...

s (14 times higher), and colon cancer (10 times higher) was found in Halabja compared to Chamchamal
Chamchamal
Chamchamal is a Kurdish city located to the east of Kirkuk and west of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan.The city's population of 200,000 is relatively young....

; additionally, "other cancers, respiratory ailments, skin and eye problems, fertility and reproductive disorders are measurably higher in Halabja and other areas caught in chemical attacks". Some of those who survived the attack or were apparently injured only lightly at the time, later developed medical problems doctors believe stemmed from the chemicals, and there are concerns that the attack may be having a lasting genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 impact on the Kurdish population, as preliminary surveys show increased rates of birth defects.

Trials

On December 23, 2005, a Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 court sentenced Frans van Anraat
Frans van Anraat
Frans Cornelis Adrianus van Anraat is a Dutch businessman who sold raw materials for the production of chemical weapons to Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein.-Business in Iraq:...

, a businessman who bought chemicals on the world market and sold them to Saddam's regime, to 15 years in prison. The Dutch court ruled that Saddam committed genocide against the people of Halabja; this was the first time a court described the Halabja attack as an act of genocide. On 12 March 2008, the government of Iraq announced plans to take further legal action against the suppliers of chemicals used in the poison gas attack.

Neither Saddam Hussein nor his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti , , was a Ba'athist Iraqi Defense Minister, Interior Minister, military commander and chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service...

 (who commanded Iraqi forces in northern Iraq in that period, which earned him a nickname of "Chemical Ali") were charged by the Iraqi Special Tribunal for crimes against humanity relating to the events at Halabja. However, the Iraqi prosecutors had "500 documented baskets of crimes during the Hussein regime" and Hussein was condemned to death based on just one case (the 1982 Dujail Massacre
Dujail Massacre
The Dujail Massacre refers to the events following an assassination attempt against then Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, on July 8, 1982, in the town of Dujail...

). Among several documents revealed during the trial of Saddam Hussein
Trial of Saddam Hussein
thumb|300 px| Saddam Hussein sits before an Iraqi judge at a courthouse in Baghdad, 1 July 2004.The Trial of Saddam Hussein was the trial of the deposed President of Iraq Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi Interim Government for crimes against humanity during his time in office.The Coalition Provisional...

, one was a 1987 memorandum
Memorandum
A memorandum is from the Latin verbal phrase memorandum est, the gerundive form of the verb memoro, "to mention, call to mind, recount, relate", which means "It must be remembered ..."...

 from Iraq's military intelligence seeking permission from the president's office to use mustard gas and the nerve agent sarin against Kurds. A second document said in reply that Saddam had ordered military intelligence to study the possibility of a "sudden strike" using such weapons against Iranian and Kurdish forces. An internal memo written by military intelligence confirmed it had received approval from the president's office for a strike using "special ammunition" and emphasized that no strike would be launched without first informing the president.

On 18 December 2006, Saddam Hussein told the court:

In relation to Iran, if any military or civil official claims that Saddam gave orders to use either conventional or special ammunition, which as explained is chemical, I will take responsibility with honor. But I will discuss any act committed against our people and any Iraqi citizen, whether Arab or Kurdish. I don't accept any insult to my principles or to me personally.


Ali Hassan al-Majid ("Chemical Ali") was condemned to death by hanging by an Iraqi court in January 2010, after being found guilty of orchestrating the Halabja massacre. Majid was first sentenced to hang in 2007 for his role in a 1988 military campaign against ethnic Kurds, codenamed Operation Anfal; in 2008 he also twice received a death sentence for his crimes against the Iraqi Shia Muslims, in particular for his role in crushing the 1991 uprisings
1991 uprisings in Iraq
The 1991 uprisings in Iraq were a series of anti-governmental rebellions in southern and northern Iraq during the aftermath of the Gulf War. The revolt was fueled by the perception that the power of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was vulnerable at the time; as well as by heavily fueled anger at...

 in southern Iraq and his involvement in the 1999 killings in the Sadr City
Sadr City
Sadr City is a suburb district of the city of Baghdad, Iraq. It was built in 1959 by Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qassim and later unofficially renamed Sadr City after deceased Shia leader Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr....

 (then Saddam City) district of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. He was executed on January 25, 2010.

International sources for technology and chemical precursors

The know-how and material for developing chemical weapons were obtained by Saddam's regime from foreign firms. The largest suppliers of precursors for chemical weapons production were in Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 (4,515 tons), the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 (4,261 tons), Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 (2,400 tons), India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 (2,343 tons), and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 (1,027 tons). One Indian company, Exomet Plastics (now part of EPC Industrie Ltd.) sent 2,292 tons of precursor chemicals to Iraq. The Kim Al-Khaleej firm, located in Singapore and affiliated to United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

, supplied more than 4,500 tons of VX, sarin, and mustard gas precursors and production equipment to Iraq.

The provision of chemical precursors from United States companies to Iraq
United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war
United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War, as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran, included several billion dollars worth of economic aid, the sale of dual-use technology, non-U.S. origin weaponry, military intelligence, Special Operations training, and direct involvement in...

 was enabled by a Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 administration policy that removed Iraq from the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Leaked portions of Iraq's "Full, Final and Complete" disclosure of the sources for its weapons programs shows that thiodiglycol
Thiodiglycol
Thiodiglycol, or bissulfide , is a viscous, clear to pale-yellow liquid used as a solvent. Its chemical formula is 4102, or HOCH2CH2SCH2CH2OH. It is miscible with acetone, alcohols, and chloroform...

, a substance needed to manufacture mustard gas, was among the chemical precursors provided to Iraq from US companies such as Alcolac International and Phillips. Both companies have since undergone reorganization and Phillips, once a subsidiary of Phillips Petroleum is now part of ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips Company is an American multinational energy corporation with its headquarters located in the Energy Corridor district of Houston, Texas in the United States...

, an American oil and discount fossil fuel company, while Alcolac International has since dissolved and reformed as Alcolac Inc. Alcolac was named as a defendant in the Aziz v. Iraq case presently pending in the United States District Court (Case No. 1:09-cv-00869-MJG).

Allegations of Iranian involvement

An investigation into responsibility for the Halabja massacre, by Dr Jean Pascal Zanders, Project Leader of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute concluded in 2007 that Iraq was the culprit, and not Iran. The U.S. State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

, however, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, took the official position based on examination of available evidence that Iran was partly to blame.

A preliminary Defense Intelligence Agency
Defense Intelligence Agency
The Defense Intelligence Agency is a member of the Intelligence Community of the United States, and is the central producer and manager of military intelligence for the United States Department of Defense, employing over 16,500 U.S. military and civilian employees worldwide...

 (DIA) study at the time reported that it was Iran that was responsible for the attack, an assessment which was used subsequently by the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) for much of the early 1990s. The CIA's senior political analyst for the Iran-Iraq war, Stephen C. Pelletiere, co-authored an unclassified analysis of the war which contained a brief summary of the DIA study's key points. The CIA altered its position radically in the late 1990s and cited Halabja frequently in its evidence of weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 before the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. Pelletiere claimed that a fact that has not been successfully challenged is that Iraq was not known to have possessed the cyanide
Cyanide
A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

-based blood agents determined to have been responsible for the condition of the bodies that were examined, and that blue discolorations around the mouths of the victims and in their extremities, pointed to Iranian-used gas as the culprit. Leo Casey writing in Dissent Magazine argued that "None of the authors of these documents ... had any expertise in medical and forensic sciences, and their speculation doesn't stand up to minimal scrutiny." Some opponents to the Iraq sanctions have cited the DIA report to support their position that Iraq was not responsible for the Halabja attack.

Joost Hiltermann, who was the principal researcher for the Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 between 1992–1994, conducted a two-year study of the massacre, including a field investigation in northern Iraq. According to his analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, it is clear that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja, and that the United States, fully aware of this, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. This research concluded there were numerous other gas attacks, unquestionably perpetrated against the Kurds by the Iraqi armed forces. According to Hiltermann, the literature on the Iran-Iraq war reflects a number of allegations of chemical weapons use by Iran, but these are "marred by a lack of specificity as to time and place, and the failure to provide any sort of evidence". Hiltermann called these allegations "mere assertions" and added that "no persuasive evidence of the claim that Iran was the primary culprit was ever presented." The 2002 International Crisis Rroup (ICG) no. 136 "Arming Sadaam:The Yugoslav Connection" concludes it was "tacit approval" by many world governments that led to the Iraqi regime being armed with weapons of mass destruction, despite sanctions, because of the ongoing Iranian conflict.

2006 Halabja memorial riot

In March 2003, a controversial Monument of Halabja Martyrs was built on the outskirts of the still largely ruined city. On March 16, 2006, a few thousand Halabja residents riot
Riot
A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people. While individuals may attempt to lead or control a riot, riots are thought to be typically chaotic and...

ed at the site in protest of what they perceived as the neglect of the living and capitalizing on the tragedy by the Kurdish leadership. The memorial was set on fire; one of the rioters was shot dead by the police and dozens of people were injured.

In popular culture

  • In 2008, Kayhan Kalhor
    Kayhan Kalhor
    Kayhan Kalhor , born 24 November 1963, is an Iranian kamancheh player, composer and master of classical Kurdish and Persian music.-Youth and studies:...

     and Brooklyn Rider released the album "Silent City" in memory of Halabja Massacre. As Kalhor has writes on the back cover "The piece commemorates the Kurdish village of Hallabja in Iraqi Kurdistan
    Iraqi Kurdistan
    Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

    . It is based on an altered Aminor scale and uses Kurdish themes to remember the Kurdish people." In 2011, Kayhan Kalhor
    Kayhan Kalhor
    Kayhan Kalhor , born 24 November 1963, is an Iranian kamancheh player, composer and master of classical Kurdish and Persian music.-Youth and studies:...

    , Yo-Yo Ma
    Yo-Yo Ma
    Yo-Yo Ma is an American cellist, virtuoso, and orchestral composer. He has received multiple Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts in 2001 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011...

     and The Silk Road Ensemble performed Silent City in Sanders Theater
    Sanders Theater
    Sanders Theatre or Sanders Theater is the premiere lecture and concert hall at Harvard University. It is internationally known for its superior acoustics, which in New England are only surpassed by Jordan Hall, Mechanics Hall, Worcester, and Boston Symphony Hall.-History:Plans for the theater...

    . Later in 2011, Silk Road Project released video of last part of the performance on Youtube
    YouTube
    YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

  • The industrial
    Industrial music
    Industrial music is a style of experimental music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by the band Throbbing Gristle, and the creation of the slogan "industrial music for industrial people". In general, the...

     band Skinny Puppy
    Skinny Puppy
    Skinny Puppy is a Canadian industrial musical group, formed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1982. The group is widely considered to be the founders of the electro-industrial genre....

     included a track called "VX Gas Attack" on their album VIVIsectVI
    VIVIsectVI
    -Notes:"Dogshit" was released as a single under the title "Censor"."Who's Laughing Now?" was included on the soundtrack of the 1990 film Bad Influence.A note in liner notes is a reference to playing music at a very loud volume, or else...

    , based on the Halabja poison gas attack. The backing video for this song used on their Too Dark Park
    Too Dark Park
    -Personnel:*Nivek Ogre – vocals*cEvin Key – drums, synthesizer, guitar, objects, treatments*Dwayne Goettel – synthesizer, keyboards, guitar, bass*Mr. D. Pleven – fretless bass , stick bass *Green Guy – 12 string *Greg Reely – piano , mixing...

    album tour featured various video clips showing victims of the attacks being treated for their injuries, as well as the bodies of those who perished in the attacks.
  • The Dutch death metal
    Death metal
    Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It typically employs heavily distorted guitars, tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, minor keys or atonality, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes....

     band The Monolith Deathcult composed a track about the gassing on the album "Trivmvirate", called "Wrath of the Ba'ath
    Baath Party
    The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was a political party mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to Western imperialism, and calling for the renaissance or resurrection and unification of the Arab world into a single state. Ba'ath is also spelled Ba'th or Baath and means...

    ".
  • The 2006 documentary film Screamers about the Armenian American band System of a Down
    System of a Down
    System of a Down, also known by the acronym SOAD and often shortened to System, is a rock band from Southern California. The band was formed in 1994. It consists of Serj Tankian , Daron Malakian , Shavo Odadjian and John Dolmayan...

     featured a significant segment on the Halabja gas attack.
  • The 2002 British horror film 28 Days Later
    28 Days Later
    28 Days Later is an acclaimed 2002 British horror film directed by Danny Boyle. The screenplay was written by Alex Garland, and the film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, and Christopher Eccleston...

    features a scene where the protagonist walks into a deserted diner and finds a dead mother clutching her dead child on the floor; the director's commentary reveals the scene was inspired by footage and pictures of the Halabja gas attack.

See also

  • Iraqi chemical weapons program
  • Al-Anfal Campaign
    Al-Anfal Campaign
    The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

  • Changde chemical weapon attack
  • Chemical warfare
    Chemical warfare
    Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

  • List of events named massacres
  • Kurdish Rebellion of 1983
    Kurdish Rebellion of 1983
    The Kurdish Rebellion of 1983 occurred during the Iran-Iraq war as Kurds of northern Iraq rebelled against Saddam Hussein, in an attempt to form their own autonomous country. The most violent stage of this rebellion was the al-Anfal campaign of the Iraqi Army against the Kurdish minority, which...


Literature

  • Joost R. Hiltermann, A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja (2007) ISBN 0521876869
  • Samantha Power
    Samantha Power
    Samantha Power is an Irish American academic, governmental official and writer. She is currently a Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and runs the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights as Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs on the Staff of the National Security Council...

    , A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (2003) ISBN 0-06-054164-4
  • Lawrence Potter, Gary Sick
    Gary Sick
    Gary G. Sick is an American academic and analyst of Middle East affairs, with special expertise on Iran, who served on the U.S. National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and for a couple weeks under Reagan as well...

    , Iran, Iraq, and the Legacies of War (2004) ISBN 1-4039-6450-5

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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