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Sorani Kurdish: هەڵەبجە
Arabic: حلبجة
Halabja city
Halabja city
Halabja is located in Iraqi Kurdistan
Halabja in Iraq
Halabja is located in Iraq
Halabja (Iraq)
Coordinates: 35°11′11″N 45°58′26″E / 35.18639°N 45.97389°E / 35.18639; 45.97389
Country Iraq
Autonomous region Iraqi Kurdistan[1]
Established1650 AD
 • GovernorAzad tofiq[2]
 • Total1,599 km2 (617 sq mi)
721 m (2,365 ft)
 • Total200,000
Time zoneUTC+3

Halabja (Kurdish: Helebce, هەڵەبجە) is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, the capital of the Halabja Governorate. It is 240 kilometres (150 mi) northeast of Baghdad.

Poison gas attack[change | change source]

The city is known for an incident in the final phase of the Iran-Iraq War. The Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas, supported by Iran, took control of the city. On March 16, 1988, after two days of ordinary artillery attacks, Iraqi Air Force planes dropped gas canisters on the town.[3][4] The town and surrounding district were attacked with bombs, artillery fire and chemical weapons, the last of which proved most damaging. At least 5,000 people died as an immediate result of the chemical attack. It is estimated that a further 7,000 people were injured or suffered long-term illness.[5] Most of the victims of the attack on the town of Halabja were Kurdish civilians.[6]

The attack is believed to have included the nerve agents Tabun, Sarin and VX, as well as mustard gas. Another possibility, according to the former senior CIA analyst Stephen C. Pelletiere, is that Iraq did not have the nerve agent to use in the attack but did have mustard gas which had been used in the Iran–Iraq War. It is occasionally suggested[7] that cyanide was also included among these chemical weapons, though this assertion has been cast into doubt, as cyanide is a natural byproduct of impure Tabun.[8] The attack on Halabja took place amidst the Anfal campaign, in which Saddam Hussein powerfully suppressed Kurdish revolts during the Iran–Iraq War.

Before the war ended, Iraqi forces moved in on the ground and completely destroyed the town.[9] In March 2010, the Iraqi High Criminal Court recognized the Halabja massacre as genocide. This decision was welcomed by the Kurdistan Regional Government.[10]

References[change | change source]

  1. "The Kurdistan Region in brief". cabinet.gov.krd. Archived from the original on 2018-08-17. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-09-27. Retrieved 2018-12-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Remembering Victims of Genocide: The Chemical Attack on Halabja 1988". Rudaw.
  4. "1988: Thousands die in Halabja gas attack". BBC News. 1988-03-16. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  5. Osman, Hiwa (March 17, 2002). "Iraqi Kurds recall chemical attack". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-08-05.
  6. "Whatever Happened To The Iraqi Kurds?". Human Rights Watch. March 11, 1991.
  7. "Facts About Cyanide". Centers for Disease Control. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010.
  8. "Iraq events – Chemical warfare". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  9. Hirst, David (March 22, 1988). "The Kurdish victims caught unaware by cyanide". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2006-06-09.
  10. AK News, 1 March 2010 Archived 20 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine