BAGHDAD — Kurds on Wednesday told of entire families killed in chemical weapons attacks against their villages in the 1980s, saying survivors plunged their faces into milk to end the pain from the blinding gas or fled into the hills on mules as military helicopters fired on them.
After hours of grim testimony in the genocide trial of Saddam Hussein, the chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri adjourned until Sept. 11 to consider defense appeals over the legitimacy of the tribunal.
Four survivors took the stand on the third day of proceedings against Saddam and six co-defendants over the Anfal campaign, a massive military assault in northern Iraq in which tens of thousands of Kurds were killed. The offensive leveled hundreds of villages — many struck by chemical weapons — with their residents herded into prison camps where many of the men disappeared and were executed, according to prosecutors.
Saddam and the other defendants largely sat silently as the survivors gave their accounts.
The defense pressed the plaintiffs on whether Kurdish guerrillas were operating in the areas that were hit in the attacks. Two of Saddam’s co-defendants have insisted that Anfal did not target civilians but aimed only to wipe out fighters they said were helping Iran as the two countries waged war in the 1980s.