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Halabja
Sorani Kurdish: هەڵەبجە
Arabic: حلبجة
City
Halabja city
Halabja city
Country  Iraq
Autonomous region  Iraqi Kurdistan
Governorate Halabja
Established 1650 AD
Area
 • Total 1,599 km2 (617 sq mi)
Elevation 721 m (2,365 ft)
Population (2013)
 • Total 200,000
Time zone UTC+3

Halabja (Kurdish: Helebce, هەڵەبجە) is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, the capital of the Halabja Governorate. It is 240 kilometres (150 mi) northeast of Baghdad.

Poison gas attack

The city is known for an incident in the final phase of the Iran-Iraq War. The Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas, supported by Iran, took control of the city. On March 16, 1988, after two days of ordinary artillery attacks, Iraqi Air Force planes dropped gas canisters on the town. The town and surrounding district were attacked with bombs, artillery fire and chemical weapons, the last of which proved most damaging. At least 5,000 people died as an immediate result of the chemical attack. It is estimated that a further 7,000 people were injured or suffered long-term illness. Most of the victims of the attack on the town of Halabja were Kurdish civilians.

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

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