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Iraq News with Hawija, Mosul and Iraqi Kurdistan Updates | Mail Online

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The Times UK

By Martin Fletcher

The most immediately striking feature of Halabja is its beauty. Behind the town crinkled green hills flank the snow-topped mountains that divide Iraq’s Kurdish north from Iran. In front a great valley stretches away towards the distant blue waters of Darbandikhan Lake. It is hard to believe that on March 16, 1988 Saddam Hussein’s Mirage jets streaked over this sublime scenery and dropped chemical weapons on Halabja’s 80,000 rebellious Kurds, killing 5,000 and debilitating many more in the world’s worst chemical attack on a civilian population. Halabja now has a memorial with the victims’ names inscribed on black marble

 Excerpt: "I soon discovered . . . Kurdistan’s natural beauty — its rugged mountains, breathtaking valleys, ravines, lakes

Excerpt: "I soon discovered . . . Kurdistan’s natural beauty — its rugged mountains, breathtaking valleys, ravines, lakes and waterfalls. That is why Western soldiers and diplomats went there for rest and relaxation during the worst years of the Iraq war. Be warned, though; the Kurds’ national pastime is picnicking — and leaving their litter behind."

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University and a retired Army officer. An updated edition of his book “The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War” will be published this month.