25 years ago: March 16, 1988 - a dark cloud raised over Halabja. So dark and toxic that you could hear the angels cry.
In the early hours of the evening, the city of Halabja in southern Kurdistan had been attacked by the Iraqi Ba’athist regime amidst the Iran-Iraq War. The Kurds were stuck in the middle of this war. Many Kurds fought for Iran but then Iran turned on them and an Iranian general ordered his men to “run down as many Kurds as you can with your tanks.”
In 1988, a man with the nickname of “Chemical Ali” thought up an evil plan: to ethnically cleanse all parts of Iraq from Shiites, Kurds, Assyrians, Christians, anyone who was not a Sunni Arab.
So this happened.
Large amounts of toxic nerve gas pummeled the small Kurdish city. A toxic component named ‘mustard gas’ was shelled out by the thousands. It was a dense gas, intricately thought out by Ali because Kurds usually hid out in their basements once fighting ensued so since this gas was dense and if many Kurds thought this was a normal bombardment, they would all run to their basements and suffocate to death.
Many children’s final words to adult survivors were “I smell apples. Why do I smell apples? Why am I burning?”
Never has the smell of apples been so cruel.
5,000 killed. 10,000 injured. With thousands dying in the years after the attack due to complications and cancer caused by the gas.