An acrid smell still hangs in the air in parts of Taza, and its narrow streets are unusually quiet.On March 8, Islamic State militants fired more than 40 rockets carrying chemical warheads at this northern Iraqi town of mud-wall compounds and dusty date palms on, according to district head Hussein Adil, killing a young child and wounding over 800 civilians. After the attack, which may have been carried out with a mixture of chlorine and mustard gas, nearly half of the town's 30,000 residents, mostly ethnic Turkmen Shiites, fled in terror.
Chemical warfare has made an ugly return to Iraq. The Islamic State group has carried out several similar attacks on Kurdish Peshmerga militia, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but the Saturday attack was significant for the large number of civilians targeted. It was also notable for occurring shortly before the 28th anniversary of the1988 Halabja chemical attacks – the worst chemical massacre of civilians in history.