Inside Taza, the Iraqi Town Gassed by the Islamic State

On the anniversary of the worst chemical-weapons massacre of civilians in history, Iraqis once again have to fear attack with the banned substances.
March 16, 2016, 2:50pm

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.

Islamic State Chemical Weapons Attack Said to Injure 600 and Kill 3-Year-Old Girl in Iraq

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.

Hassan Hussein, an Islamic studies primary school teacher, shows burns on his skin he says he suffered after last week's chemical attack. Photo by Alice Martins/VICE NewsSoldiers fighting with a Turkmen battalion of the Shiite militias known as Hashd al-Shabi move to take position outside Taza Khurmatu, on March 15, 2016. Photo by Alice Martins/VICE News