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Struggle for Iraq
Click on the events below to read about Iraq's history
Saddam's rise:
Iran-Iraq war:
Gulf War:
1990 - 1991
Second war:
Young activist
Hardline deputy
War breaks out
Israeli bombing
Chemical warfare
Western support
Truce and debt
Kuwait invasion
Desert Storm
Scud missiles
Civilian casualties
Ground war
Iraqi ceasefire
After the war
No-fly zones
Desert Fox
Inspectors barred
US-led invasion
Saddam captured
Iraq in turmoil
Trial of Saddam

Iraq is known to have used the blister agent mustard gas from 1983 and the nerve gas Tabun from 1985, as it faced attacks from "human waves" of Iranian troops and poorly-trained but loyal volunteers. Tabun can kill within minutes.

In 1988 Iraq turned its chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds in the north of the country.

Some Kurdish guerrilla forces had joined the Iranian offensive.

On 16 March 1988, Iraq dropped bombs containing mustard gas, Sarin and Tabun on the Kurdish city of Halabja.

Estimates of the number of civilians killed range from 3,200 to 5,000, with many survivors suffering long-term health problems.

Chemical weapons were also used during Iraq's "Anfal" offensive - a seven-month scorched-earth campaign in which an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Kurdish villagers were killed or disappeared, and hundreds of villages were razed.

A UN security council statement condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons in the war was issued in 1986, but the US and other western governments continued supporting Baghdad militarily and politically into the closing stages of the war.

Victims of the Iraqi attack lying in a Halabja street
Up to 5,000 died at Halabja, northern Iraq

Baby born in Halabja since 1988 attack

This baby in Halabja was born
with deformed fingers

There is no doubt that the Iraqis have been using chemical weapons
The BBC's Keith Graves, July 1988


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