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. 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.
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). The Army Chief of Staff was Brig. Gen. Nizar Abd-Al-Karim Al-Khazraji. The Iraqi Defense Minister at the time of Anfal was Gen. Adnan Khairallah (later deceased).
General Nizar Khazraji [Nazar al-Khazraji] was the chief of staff of the Iraqi Army from 1980 until 1991. He said he criticized the invasion of Kuwait that led to the 1991 Gulf War and was eventually placed under house arrest. He fled from Baghdad in 1995. As of early 2002 Khazraji, who lives in exile in Denmark, was said to be the favored candidate among various ex-officers earmarked by Washington as potential leaders to run Iraq after the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.
According to some reports Khazraji was in charge of Iraq's bloody campaign against the Kurds in the North of Iraq between 1987 and 1988, which resulted in thousands of deaths. In 1993, the organization Human Rights Watch presented a report to the US congress says that General Khazraji was directly responsible for the massacre. The main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have come out in support of al-Khazraji, but a smaller Kurdish group [the Kurdistan National Congress] has sought to have him prosecuted for war crimes. Gen. Khazraji says the allegations have been invented by Iraqi intelligence services.
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. I Corps commanded units roughly from south of Mosul to north of Baghdad. Units were shifted out of this corps both during the buildup and after the start of the air war.
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.
In November 1996 Iraqi Army and Republican Guard units manoeuvred towards Arbil and the contact lines in the Iraqi Kurdistan areas, which were still out of the regime's control. The movements included the 44th Brigade of the 8th Division towards Isma'il Bik hill, which overlooks the basin opposite the Haybat Sultan area. Personnel from the Military Intelligence and Military Security units of the 1st Army Corps were deployed in the Dighalah area. Unconfirmed reports said that forces from the 17th Mechanized Brigade of the 10th Armored Division, the Nasr Forces Command of the 4th Army Corps, were deployed in the same sector.
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. The 1st Corps, based at Khalid Military Camp in Kirkuk, was mobilized in order to concentrate the forces in the Northern Sector, and to withdraw some of them southwards or to the Middle.
On 15 January 1999, Izzet Al Douri, the commander of the Northern Region, headquartered at the Civil Defense Directorate in the city of Kirkuk (Operations Room), issued orders to the First Corps (headquartered in Kirkuk) and the Second Corps (headquartered in Al-Mansouriyah mountain in Diayala) to raise the emergency level to 100% for their units. Furthermore, they were supplied with first and second line ammunition and gas masks. Execution brigades were formed under the command of Military Intelligence to stem any drive towards desertion among the rank and file.
As of March 1999 it was noted that the number of Tikriti officers who occupied important positions had increased, which negatively affects other commanders and senior officers, because the situation minimizes the chances of their promotion. At that time the commanders of the 1st and 3rd Corps were Al-Tikritis.
In December 2000 it was reported that Iraqi forces had deployed along the border with Kurdistan, with some speculating that these forces may exploit the intra-Kurdish feuding to invade Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] controlled territory. PUK sources pointed to the deployment of Iraqi forces in areas controlled by the 1st Corps, on the Kirkuk border, and the 2nd Corps, on the Diyala border. Additionally, there reportedly are Republican Guard artillery units, infantry divisions, and an armored division deployed in that region.
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