Operation Anfal

In 1987-88 the Iraqi army, at the behest of Saddam, carried out pacification of Iraqi Kurdistan, named Operation Anfal. According to prosecutors, in that time were killed or gone without a trace about 180,000 Kurds. On the unfinished process of genocide on the Kurds, Saddam argued that this was an operation against Kurdish guerrillas who initiated the uprising at the time when the war with Iran took a place. But the witnesses confirmed that the army applied the scorched-earth tactics, used poison gas against civilians, including also women, children and old people. It was an awful area’s cleaning of unwanted residents. Murder of innocent people.

dead children in Halabja
Dead children in Halabja

The word ANFAL means in Arabic „the spoils of war” and refers to the title of the Eighth Sura in the Koran. Many years before the operation really bad things took a place. The Kurds went through persecution, mass resettlement, executions which were made ”silently” , the usage of prohibited by international conventions  types of weapons to its own civilian population.

The biggest attack was carried out in Halabja 06.03.1988 were in a few minutes 5 000 people died.  Vulnerable children and women. Saddam’s cousin gave orders to Iraqi soliders what he admitted during his trial –  Ali Hassan al-Majid – known much better as Chemical Ali.

Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as “Chemical Ali”

This is one of the biggest crime in post-war history of the world. Lying less than 15 miles from the Iranian border, Halabja was the center of Kurdish resistance. The attack on Halabja was  Saddam’s retaliation for cooperating with Iranian Kurds, who hoped that they can use neighborhoods war for their own independence purposes. The attack lasted 5 hours and began in the evening with artillery and dropping napalm. Then the Iraqi fighters -MiG-i and Mirage – dropped chemical bombs on areas inhabited by civilians, located far away from the base of Iraqi army. Iraqi soldiers reported that they saw dense clouds of smoke hovering over the city: first white, then black, and yellow. While the Kurds,who survived the attack, recalled that shortly after the bombs were dropped by aircraft, they felt sweet smell of apples …

Unaware of anything, women and kids, died after a few minutes.


Most residents have died in terrible agony. Deadly gas cloud killed all living organisms. Some people died almost at once, falling suddenly on the ground, while others were dying a few minutes – getting  salivation and convulsions, or vomited green content. In many cases, the consequences of the attack revealed only after several years of contact with the deadly gases – blindness, skin, lung or breast cancer.

The attack on Halabja was the first one in the history of such large quantities of poison gas used against civilians. World public opinion considered it as genocide.


After the attack soldiers and scientists were sent to the city in masks and suits. Their task was to check  how effective was the weapon used during extermination. They were interested in the distance between the place where the bombs were dropped and the place of lying bodies. After that examination, every building was destroyed. With the help of explosives and bulldozers Halabja has disappeared and hundreds of victims were buried in mass graves .

Returning Kurds gradually rebuilt the city, despite the poisoning of the water and soil. 1 March 2010 the Iraqi Supreme Court held Halabja’s massacre as genocide. Responsible for it, ”Chemical Ali”, was sentenced two months earlier to death by hanging. The first death sentence in the process was for organizing and carrying out the operation „Anfal”. The next two sentences – including death by hanging – were measured for the persecuting Shiites. A cousin of Saddam Hussein was executed on 25 January 2010.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s