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Reply #83: Re: Mass graves = bullshit. [View All]

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michael098762001 Donating Member (39 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-06-05 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #61
83. Re: Mass graves = bullshit.
For those that might HRW as, "bourgeois liberals, " see the interview with three leading HRW researchers, Joe Stork who edited MERIP, the radical left Middle East journal, Reed Brody, who authored a report on atrocities of the Contras and another person whose name escapes me in, 'rethinking Marxism, " the post-modern, Althusserian journal, a few yrs. ago.

The March 16 Chemical Attack on Halabja

For years, the hostility between Iran and Iraq had appeared to the Kurdish
parties as a geopolitical loophole that they could exploit to their
advantage. After withstanding the siege of Sergalou-Bergalou for two weeks,
the PUK took the desperate decision to open a second front with Iranian
military support. As their target the peshmerga chose Halabja, a town on
the plain just a few miles from the border, in a feint that was designed to
draw some of the Iraqi troops away from the siege of Sergalou and Bergalou.
But the plan turned out to be a tragic miscalculation, as the once
beneficial alliance with Iran turned into a crippling liability. For the
Halabja diversion only cemented the view of the Iraqi regime that the war
against Iran and the war against the Kurds was one and the same thing.

At the end of February, Iraq had stepped up its missile attacks on Teheran
as part of the "War of the Cities";19 the escalation was designed to push
the weakened Iranians to the negotiating table on terms favorable to
Baghdad. A confident senior official even admitted to Patrick Tyler of the
Washington Post that Iraq was trying to lure its adversary into a trap by
overextending its forces. "For the first time in our history, we want the
Iranians to attack," the official said.20 At Halabja, the Iranians obliged.

Halabja was a bustling Kurdish town with a busy commercial section and a
number of government offices. Villagers displaced from their homes by the
war had swollen its population of 40,000 to 60,000 or more. The peshmerga
had been strong here for almost thirty years, with several clandestine
parties active--Socialists, Communists and others--inaddition to Jalal
Talabani's PUK. One group with particular local strength was the pro-
Iranian Islamic Movement Party (Bizutnaway Islami Eraqi). As a reprisal
against local support for the peshmerga, Iraqi troops had already bulldozed
two entire quarters of the town, Kani Ashqan and Mordana, in May 1987.21
Since about 1983, Iranian troops had been making secret reconnaissance
visits to Halabja under cover of darkness. The town lay on the very edge of
the war-zone, and dozens of small villages between Halabja and the Iranian
border had been razed in the late 1970s, their inhabitants resettled in
complexes on the edge of the city. But the greater strategic importance of
Halabja was its location just seven miles east of Darbandikhan Lake, whose
dam controls a significant part of the water supply to the Iraqi capital,

During the first two weeks of March, a stream of Iraqi intelligence reports
noted the buildup of Revolutionary Guards and peshmerga to the west of
Halabja and the shelling of the nearby town of Sayed Sadeq by Iranian
forces.22 On March 13, the Iranians officially announced that they had
launched a new offensive named Zafar 7 in the Halabja area. According to
Teheran radio, the offensive--conducted by a joint force of PUK peshmerga
and pasdaran--was in retaliation for the Iraqi regime's recent chemical
attacks on the Kurds.23 A second attack, apparently coordinated, followed
the next day. This one was called Bait al-Maqdis 4, and the Iranians
claimed that it had taken their forces within twelve miles of Suleimaniyeh.
On March 16, Teheran announced yetanother offensive, codenamed Val-Fajr
10.24 Iran boasted that its forces had now advanced to the eastern shore of
Darbandikhan Lake, controlling 800 square kilometers of Iraqi territory and
102 (presumably destroyed) villages. But the main thrust of Val-Fajr 10,
Teheran declared, was the "liberation" of the town of Halabja.

Halabja had been subjected to three days of heavy Iranian shelling from the
surrounding hills, beginning on March 13. One by one, the small Iraqi
military posts between Halabja and the border were routed, and their
occupants pulled back to the safety of the town. Some stripped off their
uniforms and took refuge in the mosques, while some took up temporary
defensive positions in local army bases. Others fled altogether. Yet the
Baghdad regime resisted the temptation to reinforce Halabja with large
numbers of ground troops, for it had an entirely different strategy in
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