RealNews

Kurds Plead for Protection Against Gas

Dr. Baravan Saidullah sits in his barren clinic each day and tries not to think about the Iraqi soldiers on a hilltop a mile away. If they lob chemical weapons into this town surrounded by a sea of wheat fields, the young doctor’s instructions to civilians are simple: run. “The only preparation is evacuation,” Dr. Saidullah said. “If there is war, we don’t believe anyone will escape.” Kurdish officials here say that the United States has failed to respond to repeated requests for gas masks and chemical weapons suits for the people of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Local officials say only a few dozen antiquated gas masks are available in the region, which is home to 3.8 million people. Leaders of the Kurds, a group whose gassing by Saddam Hussein’s forces has been invoked by Washington as one justification for war, say they are defenseless against a chemical attack. An estimated 5,000 Kurds were killed in Iraqi attacks believed to involve nerve gas and blister agents like mustard gas in the late 1980’s, according to Kurdish medical researchers. In all, 60,000 Kurds died in a campaign by the Iraqi military to put down a Kurdish insurgency. Full Story

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