The anti-Kurdish "Anfal" campaign was mounted between February and September 1988 by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. This policy of the Baathist regime was aimed at ridding Iraq of the Kurdish "problem." Iraq sent its army to crush a rebellion of the Kurds who fought at Iran's side. Anfal, a name of a sura in the Koran translated as "booty" or "spoils of war", is the official military name used by the Iraqi government. This concerted series of eight military offensives was conducted in six distinct Kurdish geographic areas between late February and early September 1988. The Iraqi Army conducted field combat operations, village burnings and destruction, and mass transportation of detainees. Between 50,000 and 100,000 rural Kurds were killed in Anfal alone. The Iraqi Defense Minister at the time of Anfal was Gen. Adnan Khairallah (later deceased). The Army Chief of Staff was Brig. Gen. Nizar Abd-Al-Karim Al-Khazraji. Most Anfal operations were handled by the Kirkuk-based First Corps (commander Lt. Gen. Sultan Hashem) and the Erbil-based Fifth Corps (commander Brig. Gen. Yunis Mohammed Al-Zareb). While the Anfal campaign may have been initially conceived by the Iraqi government as a purely military campaign to destroy an insurgent movement, Kurds were killed for being Kurds, and it became genocide.
During the 1990-1991 Gulf War, the I, V, and VI Corps were "hollowed out" during the course of the buildup to provide troops for the Kuwaiti theater. The Iraqi V Corps covered the Turkish, Syrian, and western Iranian border areas. Evidence suggests that it deployed nine to ten infantry divisions. Thus the threat from Turkey, Syria, and Iran tied down between 100,000 and 120,000 troops throughout the crisis.
Although by late March/April 1991 the thrust of the Iraqi popular uprising had been broken, the threat of a coup d'etat, became increasingly more possible. During the three months following the Gulf War fourteen senior commanders were removed. On 08 July 1991 the clandestine radio 'Voice of Iraqi Opposition' reported 5th Corps Commander Staff major General Ismat Sabir along with 45 officers had been executed for refusing to bomb populated centres in the marshland areas. The next day the same radio station reported the execution of 18 officers as well as some Major Generals who were accused of attempting to stage a coup. This, it was claimed, had been the third attempt to overthrow the regime.
In the early 1990s the Iraqi National Congress began to build an army, and the CIA trained the INC to coordinate a March 1995 attack. On the eve of the planned attack, the US withdrew support and the March 1995 attack failed. In March 1995, according to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] three army corps (the First, the Second and the Fifth) massed against the Kurdish region. These three corps reportedly included a total of 17 divisions comprising nine infantry divisions, one armored division, two mechanized infantry divisions, four Republican Guard divisions including an armored division, and one Border Guard division. In addition to these, a further 25 tank units (katiba), eight armored regiments (fawj), seven mechanized regiments, four armored units and 27 infantry brigades were deployed. On 02 March 1995 Iraqi armed forces attacked Kurdish positions near Chemchamal, on the road between Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya. Iraqi reinforcements have been observed to take position in the no-man-land in formations indicating imminent offensive action. The Iraqi forces unleashed a barrage of artillery and heavy machine-gun fire on Kurdish positions and the nearby district town of Shorish.
As of February 1997 Iraq had initiated a massive troop build-up of four Corps: two infantry, one armoured, and one of the Republican Guard, in the areas of Kut, Amara, Nassiriya, Basra, and the marshes facing the Iranian border in southern Iraq. This included the transfer of forces from the First and Fifth Corps from the North, to the South.
In June 1998 Saddam Hussein replaced senior military commanders and recalled some officers out of retirement. This was a frequent practice by Saddam who was concerned about opposition to his regime within the ranks of the Iraqi armed forces. Lt. Gen. Mohamed Badawi Ibrahim, comander of the 5th Corps, was replaced by Lt. Gen. Yasin Al Maini. The 5th Corps was based at Salamieh, Mosul.
A coup attempt in the Army 5th Corps in December 1998, at the time of the Operation Desert Fox air strikes, was reportedly put down and the plotters executed.
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