RealNews

Gassed once, Kurds fear reprise

Iraq killed 5,000 people in Halabja with chemical weapons in 1988. Locals still lack masks, and no nations have offered help.When Roukhosh Arif climbed out of her basement, past the metal door draped with a wet towel that had kept out the gases, the light of a chilly, cloudless dusk was tinted yellow. Covering the mouth of her 1-year-old daughter, Ms. Arif and her husband rushed through the streets of this small city in northeastern Iraq. The poisoned air, smelling of onions and apples, crept into their eyes and nostrils. They saw its effects everywhere. Bodies lay on the street. People sat down, unable to run. A neighbor shouted prayers mixed with nonsense. These are Arif’s memories of March 16, 1988. The Iraqi military, waging a genocidal campaign against this country’s ethnic Kurds, killed 5,000 people in Halabja that day, according to human rights organizations. Today, she and other Kurds fear that Iraq may use chemicals against them again if the US leads a war against the regime of President Saddam Hussein. But Kurds are no more ready to protect themselves against such an attack than they were 15 years ago. Full Story

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