Chemical bombing of Sardasht

On 28 June 1987, Iraq dropped mustard gas bombs on Sardasht, West Azerbaijan, Iran. In two separate bombing runs on four residential areas, the attack killed 130 people and injured 8,000.[1] The gas attacks occurred during the Iran–Iraq War when Iraq frequently used chemical weapons against Iranian civilians and soldiers.

Chemical bombing of Sardasht
Part of Iran–Iraq War

News of the 1987 chemical bombing of Sardasht in local newspaper
Date28 June 1987
36°09′19″N 45°28′44″E / 36.15528°N 45.47889°E / 36.15528; 45.47889

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

  • Many of the 95% who survived the gas attack developed serious long-term complications over the next few years. These included serious respiratory problems, eye lesions, skin problems, and immune system dysfunction
 Iraq  Iran
Casualties and losses
130 deaths (109 civilians; 21 military and other)

In 2006, a quarter of the town's 20,000 residents were still experiencing severe illnesses from the attacks.[2] The film Walnut Tree (2020) was inspired by the event.



In 1986, the President of the Security Council of the United Nations 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."[3] The United States voted against the issuance of this statement.[failed verification][4]

Mustard gas is not considered a lethal agent but an incapacitating agent, causing only 3–5% mortality.

Immediate effects

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Sardasht victims exhibition

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 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, the hospital and 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 into a 150-bed medical facility. About 30 people, mostly young children and old people, died within a few hours of the attack 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 victims left the city for the villages and attempted to treat themselves using traditional medicines; the lack of documentation of their exposure and treatment lead to difficulty in obtaining government benefits.

Included among the 4,500 casualties requiring medical attention were some of the rescuers.[5]

Victims of the attack

By 2007, 130 people (109 civilians, 21 military) had died as a result of the attack. Of the civilians who died, 39 were under 18 years of age, including 11 under the age of 5, and 34 were women or girls.[6][7]

Many of the 95% who survived the Sardasht gas attack developed serious long-term complications over the next few years, including serious respiratory problems, eye lesions, skin problems, and immune system problems.[8][9]



Iran announced this (chemical) assault on Sardasht as an inhumane attack and named Sardasht as the first city which was the victim of chemical armament in the world after the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[10]

In April 2004, the Tehran Public Court ruled that the United States government was liable for the attacks due to its support Saddam Hussein's government. The US government was ordered to pay $600 million compensation to the victims.[11]

On 28 June 2004, in commemoration of the martyrs of the chemical bombing of Sardasht and the anniversary of the National day of the fight against weapons of mass destruction, one of the streets of Sardasht was named Hiroshima. A Japanese delegation from Nagasaki and Hiroshima talked at the ceremony. 111 white pigeons were released into the sky at the site of the victims. In the city of Hiroshima, a street is named after Sardasht, and every year the mayor of Hiroshima sends a message on the occasion of 28 June, and a group of Iranian NGO related to chemical disarmament travel to Japan to participate in the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Iranian NGOs also has the annual exhibition in The Hague, the Netherlands, liaising with associations of victims of weapons of mass destruction in other countries, establishing a peace museum focusing on the effects of chemical weapons, membership in the International Network of Peace Museums, participation in the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.[12][13]

See also



  1. ^ "Iran Profile - Chemical Chronology 1987". Nuclear Threat Initiative. October 2003. Archived from the original on 16 April 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2007.
  2. ^ "Iranian Chemical Attacks Victims". Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  3. ^ (S/17911 and Add. 1, 21 March 1986).
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Foroutan, Abbas. Medical Review of Iraqi Chemical Warfare. Tehran, Iran: Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, 2003, p. 183
  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 the 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. ^ "Sardasht, the victim of Chemical (attack)". 28 June 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Iran: Tehran's Public Court issues $600 million verdict against US to pay to Sardasht residents". Payvand. 28 April 2004. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2007.
  12. ^ "سالگرد بمباران شیمیایی شهر سردشت". (in Persian). Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  13. ^ "شهردار هیروشیما: سردشت، هیروشیمای دوم است". 28 June 2014.