09/12/2006, 00.00
IRAQ
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Saddam: Kurds killed because they fought on Iran's side

As Saddam's trial resumes, the ousted dictator claims that the extermination of 180,000 Kurds was a legitimate way for the state to defend itself. Witnesses describe gas attacks.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Saddam Hussein said on Tuesday that the slaughter of Kurds was a legitimate military operation because the latter were fighting alongside Shia Iran in the Iran-Iraq War.

As the trial for crimes against humanity resumed against Saddam and seven other co-defendants, the ousted Iraqi dictator tried to lay the blame for his actions, which include killing some 180,000 Kurds in 1987 and 1988.

Yesterday, on the first day of the new session, a witness, Ghafour Hassan Abdallah, addressed the former leader in Kurdish: "Congratulations Saddam Hussein. You are now in a cage!" He

then describe how he fled to Iran during the air strikes, returning six months later to find out what had happened to his family, and as he knew deep down, his mother and sisters were dead.

Another witness, Katherine Elias Mikhail, said: "We had been frequently attacked by aircraft, but this time the sound of the explosions was not as loud as before and after the explosion there was white smoke".

"I saw hundreds of people—not dozens but hundreds—and they were vomiting and teary-eyed," she said. "People with me collapsed because they had lost their sight."

Saddam countered accusing the court of dividing the Iraqi people between Kurds and Arabs.

A verdict is expected in October.

In the meantime in the United States, a 2005 CIA report released by the Senate's Intelligence Committee on Friday said that there was no evidence of formal links between Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leaders prior to the 2003 war.

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