Largest civilian-populated chemical attack remembered

Iraq's Kurdish government has marked the 22nd anniversary of the 1998 chemical attack massacres in Halabja as a time of reflection and optimism.

In January, Iraq's defense minister under the former Baathist regime, Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, was executed for ordering the chemical attacks in 1988, which killed an estimated 5,000 Kurds. As many as 11,000 people were injured in the attack with thousands more dying of complications, diseases and birth defects in the years following the attack.

The Kurdish government's representative to the United States, Qubad Talabani, noted the 22nd anniversary of the attacks was a time to thank U.S. forces for their work in 2003 in removing the Baath regime from power in 2003.

"The Halabja anniversary is not, however, just a time for the people of the Kurdistan Region to look back," Talabani told "It is a time for us to heal, to seek closure and to look forward."

Talabani has said that, in the future, the next Iraqi government needs to reflect the determination and "sober acknowledgment" that such any attack should never occur again.

The chemical weapons attacks on the Kurdish city of Halabja were recognized by the Iraqi supreme court on March 8 as an act of genocide. The attack was the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian-populated area in history.