is a city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the capital of Halabja Governorate, located about 79.6 km and 14 km from the Iranian border.
The city lies at the base of what is often referred to as the greater Hewraman region stretching across the Iran–Iraq 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.
The chemical attack on Halabja happened when, kurdish peshmerga guerrillas, supported by Iran, captured 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 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 10,000 people were injured or suffered long-term illness. Most of the victims of the attack on the town of Halabja were Kurdish civilians. The Iraqi assault on Halabja remains the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in human history.
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. An interdisciplinary scientific study from 2019, after more than three decades, shows that the chemical attacks on Halabja have long-term biological, psychological and social effects on the survivors.
Before the war ended the Iraqis moved in on the ground and completely destroyed the town. In March 2010, the Iraqi High Criminal Court recognized the Halabja massacre as genocide; the decision was welcomed by the Kurdistan Regional Government.