Iran-Iraq war: Iraq’s Use of Chemical Weapons

Iran-Iraq war: Iraq’s Use of Chemical Weapons

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There have been many wars and battles fought with different weapons, but chemical weapons used in these wars are the worst kind. These weapons cause mutations and horrible deceases to a state in which some deceases even exist many years after the incident. These chemical weapons were unfortunately used by Iraq during the 8-year war between Iran and Iraq: 1980–1988. Iraq started using these chemical weapons excessively after 1984, until the end of the war even though countries are not allowed to use chemical weapons in any cases. However, Iraq got confirmation from The United States.

The two chemical weapons that were used were: nerve agent and mustard gas. Nerve agent has two main classes that are Class G and Class V. Class V is more new, however less fatal. The specific nerve agent used by the Iraqis is Cyclosarin. Cyclosarin is an extremely toxic substance used as a chemical weapon, which is a member of Class G. Cyclosarin is the most dangerous gas out of both classes. It is known to have a sweet smell and is also flammable unlike other nerve gases. Mustard gas on the other hand is yellow and smells like garlic. Both gases cause death in minutes and have long lasting effects. These can include diseases and other horrible problems. Many of these diseases cannot be cured, for the cells have been damaged and cannot be repaired.

Unfortunately, the amount of people who died by chemical weapons is very large:

• August 1983: Haij Umran — Mustard, fewer than 100 Iranian/Kurdish casualties
• October–November 1983: Panjwin — Mustard, 3,000 Iranian/Kurdish casualties
• February–March 1984: Majnoon Island — Mustard, 2,500 Iranian casualties
• March 1984: al-Basrah — Tabun, 50-100 Iranian casualties
• March 1985: Hawizah Marsh — Mustard & Tabun, 3,000 Iranian casualties
• February 1986: al-Faw — Mustard & Tabun, 8,000 to 10,000 Iranian casualties
• December 1986: Um ar-Rasas — Mustard, 1,000s Iranian casualties
• April 1987: al-Basrah — Mustard & Tabun, 5,000 Iranian casualties
• October 1987: Sumar/Mehran — Mustard & nerve agent, 3,000 Iranian casualties
• March 1988: Halabjah & Kurdish area — Mustard & nerve agent, 1,000s Kurdish/Iranian casualties
• April 1988: al-Faw — Mustard & nerve agent, 1,000s Iranian casualties
• May 1988: Fish Lake — Mustard & nerve agent, 100s or 1,000s Iranian casualties
• June 1988: Majnoon Island — Mustard & nerve agent, 100s or 1,000s Iranian casualties
• July 1988: South-central border — Mustard & nerve agent, 100s or 1,000s Iranian casualties
Most of the people killed were Iranian, however, some Kurdish people were also killed. Iraq started using chemical weapons from the beginning of the war though they started excessively using them near the end of the war, even on their own people.

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As I said, chemical weapons cause long lasting problems. Gasses like mustard gas are more likely to cause long lasting effects on the respiratory system. Many people affected by this gas have to use masks or even in worse cases, stay attached to Oxygen capsules for the rest of their lives. Nerve gas also has effects though its effects are mainly on the nerve system and the brain. Many soldiers affected by Nerve gas get muscular diseases and cannot breath. These soldiers are tied up to machines all the time and cannot do anything on their own. Sarin and Mustard gas stay in the air for a long period of time and are neither visible nor notable unless they have affected someone. This made it harder for the soldiers to know which places have been gassed and affected.

Iraq killed many Iranian soldiers, however, Iraq also gassed many Kurdish civilians of Iraq. This attack took place in the city of Halabja, and is known as the “Halabja chemical attack” or the “Bloody Friday”. The Halabja chemical attack was a massacre against the Kurdish people that took place on March 16, 1988, near the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The attack was part of the Al-Anfal campaign (1986-1989), and also an attempt to repel the Iranian Zafar 7 operation. At that time, the Iranian forces had captured Halabja, and therefore is another reason why Iraq bombed Halabja. The attack killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people and injured 7,000 to 10,000 more, most of which were civilians. Many more died of diseases and birth defects in the years following the attack. The incident remains the largest chemical weapons attack directed against a civilian-populated area in history.

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