Iraqi-Kurds commemorate Halabja Massacre

Iraqi-Kurds commemorate Halabja Massacre
2 min read
16 March, 2019
Hundreds of relatives of the Halabja Massacre have gathered to remember the victims of the 1988 chemical attack.
Families remembered the dead of Halabja [Getty]

Iraqi-Kurds gathered in the town of Halabja on Saturday to commemorate Saddam Hussein's killing of 5,000 people - mostly women and children - following a gas attack in 1988.

The cocktail of deadly chemicals were unleashed on the farming community in northern Iraq on March 16, 1988, after Kurdish forces sided with Iran against Baghdad during an eight-year war.

Kurdish forces headed to the surrounding hills following heavy air strikes and shelling, leaving behind women, children and the elderly.

Iraqi planes circled above for five hours, releasing toxic gases including sarin and mustard gas.

Thirty-one years after the massacre, tearful relatives on Saturday carried portraits of the victims in a solemn ceremony of remembrance.

Halabja Governor Azad Tawfiq called for compensation and care for survivors still suffering from medical conditions believed to be related to the attack.

"The Kurdish government, the Iraqi central authorities and the international community owe a debt to Halabja," he said.

Iraq's President Barham Saleh, who is Kurdish, said that "the sufferings of Halabja reflect those of the Kurds and all Iraqis".

Writing on Twitter, he said the town embodied "the will to resist and be reborn" in a country ravage by decades of conflict.

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said the Halabja attack was an act of "genocide" and "barbarity".

Around 180,000 people were killed during the Iraqi regime's "Anfal campaign" against the Kurds.

Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam better known as "Chemical Ali", was hanged in 2010 for ordering the 1988 attack.

Saddam himself was hanged in 2006 after being found guilty over the deaths of 148 Shia villagers.