More than 200,000 Kurds were killed by chemical weapons and some 4,500 villages were demolished in the Anfal Massacre between 1986 and 1989 in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The genocidal campaign ordered by Saddam Hussein was named after a chapter in the Qoran, the Surah al-Anfal, which means ‘treasure’ in Arabic.
The ethnic cleansing campaign displaced more than one million people, and all but wiped out the infrastructure of the Kurdish region. The Iraqi army shelled villages with mortars and cluster bombs and used chemical gasses to kill Kurds.
The Anfal Massacre remains among the bloodiest and most devastating events of near history. Kurds hold memorials on 14 April, the national day of memorial, for the victims.
Total number of the casualties is not clear but estimated at around 200,000, while Iraqi Kurdish authorities have discovered mass graves as recent as 2020, when 171 bodies were found in three separate sites in the Samawa Desert.
Many families still search for the remains of their loved ones.
The Anfal Massacre is recognised as genocide by Sweden, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom. The Iraqi High Tribunal also recognises the Anfal Genocide, but authorities have still not brought to justice all those responsible for the killings.