Chemical bombing of Sardasht

Iraq, on June 28, 1987, dropped what Iranian authorities believed to be mustard gas bombs on Sardasht, West Azerbaijan, in two separate bombing runs on four residential areas. The numbers of victims were initially estimated as 10 civilians dead and 650 civilians injured.[1]

Chemical bombing of Sardasht
Part of Iran–Iraq War
victims of Iraq's attacks on Sardasht with chemical weapons
DateJune 28, 1987

Out of 12,000 inhabitants, 8,000 were exposed.

  • Many of the 95% who survived from the gas attack, developed serious long-term complications over the next few years including serious respiratory problems, eye lesions, skin problems as well as problems in their immune system
 Iraq  Iran
Casualties and losses
130 people (109 civilians, 21 military and other) have died from the sulfur mustard attack

Out of a population of 20,000, 25% are still suffering severe illnesses from the attacks.[2] The gas attacks occurred during the Iran–Iraq War, when Iraq frequently used chemical weapons against Iranian civilians and soldiers.

In April 2004, the government of the United States (US) was found by the Tehran Public Court to be liable for the attacks, through its previous support for the government of Saddam Hussein. The US government was ordered to pay $600 million compensation to the victims.[3]

Because Sardasht was not considered a military target, the population was both unprotected and unprepared for a chemical weapons assault. Living close to the border and to the war front, citizens had become accustomed to Iraqi bombardment with conventional weapons. However, people later told physicians that they did not know that the bombs carried chemical weapons; in fact, at first they had been relieved when the bombs did not explode.

Due to the direction of the wind, even the hospital and the convalescent center were contaminated, and the few doctors and nurses who were working there had to leave. Two public baths were used for decontamination of the victims and a small stadium was converted to a 150-bed medical facility. Within the first few hours, about 30 people died, mostly young children and old people, due to severe respiratory problems.

Out of 12,000 inhabitants, according to official reports, 8,000 were exposed. Of the 4,500 requiring medical care, 1,500 were hospitalized, 600 of them in Tehran. The other 3,000 were treated as outpatients and discharged. Many of these 3,000 former outpatients left the city for the villages and attempted to treat themselves, using traditional medicines, etc. These people do not have medical records of their exposure and now are having difficulty obtaining government benefits.

Included among the 4,500 casualties requiring medical attention were some of the rescuers.[4] Islamic Republic of Iran announced this (chemical) assault to Sardasht as inhumane attack, and named Sardasht as the first city which was the victim of chemical armament in the world after Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[5]

Casualties up until 2007: altogether 130 people (109 civilians, 21 military and other) have died from the sulfur mustard attack on Sardasht in June 1987. Twenty people died in the first few hours, ten during the evacuation to other cities, and about one hundred more died in hospitals in Iran and Europe during the next month. Of the civilians who died, 39 were under 18 years of age, including 11 under the age of 5. Thirty-four women and girls died.[6][7]

Mustard is not considered a lethal agent, but an incapacitating agent, causing only 3-5% mortality. Many of the 95% who survived from the Sardasht gas attack, developed serious long-term complications over the next few years including serious respiratory problems, eye lesions, skin problems as well as problems in their immune system.[8][9]

On 21 March 1986, the Security Council stated that the Council members were "profoundly concerned by the unanimous conclusion of the specialists that chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian troops...[and] the members of the Council strongly condemn this continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925 which prohibits the use in war of chemical weapons" (S/17911 and Add. 1, 21 March 1986). The United States voted against the issuance of this statement.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Iran Profile - Chemical Chronology 1987". Nuclear Threat Initiative. October 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  2. ^ Iranian Chemical Attacks Victims
  3. ^ "Iran: Tehran's Public Court issues $600 million verdict against US to pay to Sardasht residents". Payvand. 2004-04-28. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  4. ^ Foroutan, Abbas. Medical Review of Iraqi Chemical Warfare. Tehran, Iran: Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, 2003, p. 183
  5. ^ "Sardasht, the victim of Chemical (attack)". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  6. ^ Khateri S, Wangerin R. Denied Truths, the story of victims of chemical weapons in Iran, center for women and family affairs. 2008 , ISBN 978-600-5201-13-0
  7. ^ Khateri S. Victims of chemical weapons in Iran – an evaluation on health status of 45,000 Iranian victims of chemical warfare agents. Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Support (SCWVS) (, April 2003, ISBN 964-93602-5-5
  8. ^ Khateri S, Ghanei M, Soroush MR, Haines D. Effects of mustard gas exposure in paediatric patients. Long-term health status of mustard-exposed children, 14 years after chemical bombardment of Sardasht. J Burns & Wound Care [serial online] (, 2003;2(1):11
  9. ^ Ghanei M, Aslani J, Khateri S, Hamadanizadeh K. Public Health Status of the Civil Population of Sardasht 15 Years Following Large−Scale Wartime Exposure to Sulfur Mustard. J Burns &Surg Wound Care [serial online] 2003;2(1):7. Available from: URL: . Published March 11, 2003
  10. ^