April 9, 1988
Seventy-three years ago modern warfare took a vicious turn when Germany sent billows of greenish white gas across the fields at Ypres, France. Five thousand Frenchmen died, beginning the sporadic history of chemical warfare. That history took a new turn last month when Iraq used chemical weapons on a civilian village in its war against Iran. The scenes of dead men, women and children stretched out on the streets of Halabja are a reminder that the world community has yet to squarely face the threat posed by poison gas. The United States and the Soviet Union have made major progress in Geneva, at talks attended by 40 nations, in negotiating an accord to ban chemical weapons.
June 18, 2004 |
Nobody's sure what kind of nerve gas was in that first bomb, the one that flattened the House of Charity mosque. It collapsed the dome and toppled the minaret, and within minutes hundreds of people were twitching and blistering to death in the dust of Mokhtar Street. About 5,000 people - more than half of them children - died in Halabja on that warm morning in the late winter of 1988. On that day, Saddam Hussein's air force was nothing if not thorough. The terrible clouds of cyanide, mustard gas and sarin caught up with 15,000 other Halabjans, unwiring their nervous systems or forever clouding their minds.
March 24, 1988 |
The United States and the Red Cross condemned Iraq yesterday for allegedly carrying out a poison gas attack that might have killed as many as 5,000 civilians, while Iran warned that it might use chemical weapons against the Iraqis in retaliation. Iraq promptly denied that it had launched a chemical warfare strike last week against the Kurdish village of Halabja in northeastern Iraq, which had just been captured by Iranian troops. Mohammed Al-Mashat, Iraq's ambassador to London, denied that his nation was responsible, saying the bombing was carried out by Iran.
April 6, 1988 |
Once when I was a child, I remember my father speaking of some act of genocide in history as "an evil so unspeakable it still has no name. " I only wish there were a name for the unspeakable act of the government of Iraq at the Kurdish city of Halabja. The International Red Cross and virtually all other independent observers are certain Iraq is responsible for the mustard and cyanide gassing there last week of 5,000 innocent women, men and their children. Quite apart from being one of the most audacious acts of genocide in modern times, the tragedy at Halabja signals something even more horrible.
February 11, 2003 |
An Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility yesterday for the assassinations of a senior Kurdish general and two top security officers, saying the killings were carried out by militants bound by a suicide pact. Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), which U.S. officials and Kurdish leaders accuse of harboring followers of Osama bin Laden in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, said the killings Saturday night foiled a plot against it by the U.S.-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)
February 12, 2003 |
This is "free Iraq," the portion of northern Iraq where 4 million Kurds enjoy virtual autonomy from Saddam Hussein because they are protected by a U.S. air umbrella. The Kurds, a non-Arab Muslim people who inhabit this beautiful, mountainous region along with adjacent parts of Syria, Iran and Turkey, are America's closest Iraqi allies. U.S. troops may soon enter Kurdistan from Turkey on their way to Baghdad. The Kurds hate Saddam Hussein, who slaughtered them by the tens of thousands with bullets and poison gas in the 1980s.
April 3, 1988 |
Deliberately poisoning masses of people, often civilians, has always been counted among the most dishonorable acts of war, from ancient well-poisonings to modern attacks with nerve gases. Chemical warfare has been so universally condemned that nations have signed a treaty prohibiting its use - the Geneva Protocol of 1925 - while other lethal weapons such as shells, fragmentation bombs, firebombs and even napalm have been counted as "normal" weapons not in need of control. "There is something about poison that strikes deep; some people have said that it is so deep it is a fear that may be written into our genes," said Julian Perry Robinson, a chemical-warfare expert at the University of Sussex, England.
December 19, 2004 |
Iraqi judges questioned two top members of Saddam Hussein's former regime yesterday in the opening phase of investigative hearings on massacres, forced migrations and other atrocities under the dictatorship. Meanwhile, insurgents fired mortar rounds at a voter-registration center in the town of Dujail, 50 miles north of the capital. One Iraqi was killed and eight wounded in the attack, according to the U.S. military. Gunmen opened fire on another election center near the northern city of Kirkuk Friday night, according to police, but no one was killed.
April 11, 1990 |
It's unlikely that you'll read much about this elsewhere, but a U.S. diplomat was kicked out of Iraq yesterday and the ker-plunk of President Saddam Hussein's boot barely registered a blip on the State Department's incident report. Zachary White, an innocuous second secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, was given the bum's rush in a tit-for-tat reaction to the expulsion from the U.S. of an Iraqi "diplomat" at the United Nations. Hamid Al-Amery was ordered to leave here because of his involvement in a plot to murder two opponents of Hussein's regime living in California.
March 31, 1991
The Persian Gulf war is over, Americans want to move on, and President Bush has decided we won't aid Iraqi rebels in their fight to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Of course, on Feb. 15, Mr. Bush urged the Iraqi people "to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside. " On March 13 the President said that Iraqi helicopters should not be used to suppress the rebellion. But now that Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq have risen up, and been slaughtered, and the Kurds in the north are about to face an equally grisly fate from the guns of Saddam Hussein's planes and helicopters, America is turning a blind eye. Pushed to the background are the horrifying images of dead Kurdish families gassed by the Iraqi military on the streets of the village of Halabja during the Iran-Iraq war because they were suspected of aiding Iran.