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Halabja (Kurdish: هه‌ڵه‌بجه Hełebce) is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan and the capital of Halabja Governorate, located about 240 km (150 mi) northeast of Baghdad and 14 km (9 mi) from the Iranian border.

Halabja

Sorani Kurdish: هەڵەبجە
Arabic: حلبجة
City
Halabja city
Halabja city
Halabja is located in Iraqi Kurdistan
Halabja
Halabja
Halabja in Iraq
Halabja is located in Iraq
Halabja
Halabja
Halabja (Iraq)
Coordinates: 35°11′11″N 45°58′26″E / 35.18639°N 45.97389°E / 35.18639; 45.97389
Country Iraq
Autonomous region Iraqi Kurdistan[1]
GovernorateHalabja
Established1650 AD
Government
 • GovernorAzad tofiq[2]
 • Vice GovernorKawa Ali
Area
 • Total1,599 km2 (617 sq mi)
Elevation
721 m (2,365 ft)
Population
 (2013)
 • Total200,000
Time zoneUTC+3

The city lies at the base of what is often referred to as the greater Hewraman region stretching across the IranIraq border. Halabja is surrounded by Hawraman and Shnrwe range in the northeast, Balambo range in the south and Sirwan river in the west. The Kurds in the city of Halabja generally speak only the Sorani dialect of Kurdish, but some residents of the surrounding villages speak the Hewrami dialect.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

Halabja has a long history, as proven by excavations at nearby archaeological sites like Bakr Awa. The cemetery includes the tombs of several historical figures, such as Ahmed Mukhtar Jaff, Tayar Bag Jaff and Adila Khanim. In August 2009, three 17th century tombs were discovered in the Ababile district of the town.[3]

This suggests that the town is somewhat older than indicated by some sources, which claim that it was built by the Ottoman Empire at about 1850. However, modern developments date from the early 20th century. The post office opened in 1924 and the first school opened the following year. The Qaysari Pasha and Hamid Bag bazaars were built in 1932. Electricity did not reach the city until 1940.[4]

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were many British soldiers stationed in Halabja. During World War I, Adela Khanum saved the lives of several British soldiers, resulting in the British honoring her with the title Khan Bahadur, Princess of the Brave. She was also responsible for the building of a new prison, setting up a court of justice, of which she was the first president and building a new bazaar.[5]

Chemical attackEdit

The Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas, supported by Iran, liberated Halabja in the final phase of the Iran–Iraq War. At 11:00 AM, On March 16, 1988, after two days of conventional artillery attacks, Iraqi planes dropped gas canisters on the town.[6][7] The town and surrounding district were attacked with bombs, artillery fire and chemical weapons, the last of which proved most devastating. At least 5,000 people died as an immediate result of the chemical attack and it is estimated that a further 7,000 people were injured or suffered long term illness.[8] Most of the victims of the attack on the town of Halabja were Kurdish civilians.[9]

The attack is believed to have included the nerve agents Tabun, Sarin and VX, as well as mustard gas. However, according to former senior CIA analyst Stephen C. Pelletiere, Iraq did not have the nerve agent used in the attack but did have mustard gas which was used in the Iran–Iraq War. It is occasionally suggested[10] that cyanide was also included among these chemical weapons, though this assertion has been cast into doubt, as cyanide is a natural byproduct of impure Tabun.[11] The attack on Halabja took place amidst the infamous Anfal campaign, in which Saddam Hussein violently suppressed Kurdish revolts during the Iran–Iraq War.

Before the war ended the Iraqis moved in on the ground and completely destroyed the town.[12] In March 2010, the Iraqi High Criminal Court recognized the Halabja massacre as genocide; the decision was welcomed by the Kurdistan Regional Government.[13]

Kurdish autonomyEdit

In the mountains to the west of Halabja, a militant Islamist group, Ansar al-Islam, occupied a small enclave in the period of 2000–2003. The area was overrun by Peshmerga forces from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), with U.S. air support, at the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The town has remained a center of Islamism in the Kurdistan region, however.[citation needed]

Just before Kurds gained some autonomy over the Iraqi Kurdistan region in 1991, which included Halabja, a new town was set up where some former Kurdish refugees later relocated. The new town called Halabja Taza (or New Halabja) today has an estimated 9,000 homes.[14]

The Kurdistan Regional Government made some concentrated reconstruction efforts after 2003 in the old town and began rebuilding some of the bombed-out homes in Halabja and paving new roads. A memorial was also constructed for the victims of the chemical attacks. However, residents of Halabja have complained about the continued lack of basic services and necessities.[15]

On the 2006 anniversary of the gas attack, violent demonstrations erupted in Halabja. An estimated 7,000 demonstrators protested against priorities in reconstruction, claiming that officials were not sincerely addressing the problems of the gas attack victims. Roadblocks were set up and the gas attack memorial museum was set afire. Police fired at protesters killing one 14-year-old boy and wounding many others.[16]

2017 earthquakeEdit

On 12 November 2017 at 21:18 local time, an earthquake struck approximately 32 kilometres (20 mi) south-southwest of Halabja.[17]

ClimateEdit

Halabja has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) with very hot summers and cool wet winters.

Climate data for Halabja
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9.6
(49.3)
11.8
(53.2)
16.9
(62.4)
22.0
(71.6)
29.5
(85.1)
35.8
(96.4)
39.6
(103.3)
39.2
(102.6)
35.0
(95.0)
28.4
(83.1)
19.7
(67.5)
12.5
(54.5)
25.0
(77.0)
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.8
(40.6)
6.6
(43.9)
11.2
(52.2)
15.8
(60.4)
22.0
(71.6)
27.4
(81.3)
31.2
(88.2)
30.8
(87.4)
26.4
(79.5)
20.5
(68.9)
13.3
(55.9)
7.3
(45.1)
18.1
(64.6)
Average low °C (°F) 0.1
(32.2)
1.4
(34.5)
5.6
(42.1)
9.7
(49.5)
14.5
(58.1)
19.0
(66.2)
22.8
(73.0)
22.5
(72.5)
17.9
(64.2)
12.7
(54.9)
7.0
(44.6)
2.2
(36.0)
11.3
(52.3)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 144
(5.7)
146
(5.7)
132
(5.2)
85
(3.3)
35
(1.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
28
(1.1)
79
(3.1)
124
(4.9)
773
(30.4)
Source: [18]

TodayEdit

In 2008, plans were announced to construct an international airport for the city.[19]

In June 2013, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) recognized Halabja as a new governorate in the territory of Kurdistan region.[20] On January 1, 2014, The Iraqi Cabinet agreed to make Halabja the nation's nineteenth province.[20] On 13 March 2014, Halabja was officially approved by the KRG, as the fourth province in Kurdistan.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Kurdistan Region in brief". cabinet.gov.krd.
  2. ^ "PUK official Azad Tofiq sworn in as governor of Halabja province". www.nrttv.com.
  3. ^ "Ancient tombs found in Halabja". AK News. 9 August 2008. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  4. ^ "History of Halabja". PUK media. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  5. ^ "Adela Khanum – Princess of the Brave". Kurdistan's Women. 4 April 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  6. ^ "Remembering Victims of Genocide: The Chemical Attack on Halabja 1988". Rudaw.
  7. ^ "1988: Thousands die in Halabja gas attack". BBC News. 16 March 1988. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  8. ^ Osman, Hiwa (17 March 2002). "Iraqi Kurds recall chemical attack". BBC News. Retrieved 5 August 2006.
  9. ^ "Whatever Happened To The Iraqi Kurds?". Human Rights Watch. 11 March 1991.
  10. ^ "Facts About Cyanide". Centers for Disease Control. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Iraq events – Chemical warfare". BBC News. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  12. ^ Hirst, David (22 March 1988). "The Kurdish victims caught unaware by cyanide". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 June 2006.
  13. ^ AK News, 1 March 2010 Archived 20 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Dagher, Sam. Uprooted for Decades, Iraqi Kurds Long for Home. Halabja Taza Journal. NY Times, 3 September 2009
  15. ^ "Mohammad, Susan. Revisiting the horror of Halabja. The Ottawa Citizen, 22 October 2007". canada.com. Archived from the original on 12 April 2009.
  16. ^ "BBC NEWS – Middle East – Kurdish clash at Halabja memorial". bbc.co.uk.
  17. ^ "M 7.3 - 30km SW of Halabjah, Iraq". earthquake.usgs.gov. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  18. ^ "Climate statistics for Halabja". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  19. ^ "International Airport to be built in Halabja town ( K Sat)". Independent Kurdistan Journalism. 16 July 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  20. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit