RealNews

Iraqi Kurds Prepare for War in Homeland

The people of Chamchamal in the Kurdish enclave of northern Iraq live little more than a mile from Iraqi forces and what is likely to be a front line in any U.S.-led invasion. They do their best to prepare for the upheaval and violence, but do not have such basic things as gas masks. Kurdish officials and energetic volunteers say morale is high but they have almost no equipment to treat war victims. The Kurds, a minority oppressed by Saddam Hussein’s regime, established this enclave after the 1991 Persian Gulf War and live under the protection of U.S.-British air patrols. Kurds have been victims of warfare repeatedly in the last three decades, including 1988 chemical bombardments by Iraqi forces that left thousands dead. The Kurds know they may be caught in the crossfire of any war between the United States and Saddam’s forces. If there is a new war, fighting is expected to move quickly to oil-rich northern Iraq, around the government-held cities Mosul and Kirkuk, 30 miles from Chamchamal, a city of 58,000. The Kurds are not completely unprepared for the dangers that could lie ahead or the treatment of possible war victims and refugees fleeing battles just across the front between Kurdish forces and those of Baghdad. Full Story

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