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UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content.

Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States. For Middle East Watch, the opportunity to carry out human rights research in northern Iraq for the first time opened up unexpectedly, in the wake of the tumultuous, heart-wrenching events of early 1991 familiar to most readers from their television sets.

Each of these attacks were war crimes, involving the use of a banned weapon; the fact that noncombatants were often the victims added to the offence.

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In its February 1990 report, Human Rights in Iraq, Middle East Watch reconstructed what took place from exile sources, with what in retrospect turned out to be a high degree of accuracy.

Even so, some of the larger claims made by the Kurds seemed too fantastic to credit.

What Middle East Watch contends is that, in doing so, the central government went much further than was required to restore its authoritythrough legitimate military action.

In the process, Saddam Hussein's regime committed a panoply of war crimes, together with crimes against humanity and genocide.

As it transpires, this has been a humbling, learning process for all those foreigners who followed Kurdish affairs from abroad.

Western reporters, relief workers, human rights organizations and other visitors to Iraqi Kurdistan have come to realize that the overall scale of the suffering inflicted on the Kurds by their government was by no means exaggerated.

As of this writing, a severe economic squeeze, resulting from a combination of UN sanctions against Iraq and an internal blockade imposed by government forces, threatens to produce mass starvation among the 3.5 million inhabitants of the Kurdish rebel-controlled enclave.

Government troops massed along a ceasefire line could easily reconquer the region before the West had a chance to come to the Kurds' aid.

For Middle East Watch, a driving consideration over the past two years has been whether time would permit adequate research to be conducted to obtain reliable information that could both convince international public opinion and, later, satisfy a court of law.

Although interim reports have previously been released about the Anfal1, with thepublication of this book, the first objective has been accomplished.

Rather, these Kurds were systematically put to death in large numbers on the orders of the central government in Baghdad -- days, sometimes weeks, after being rounded-up in villages marked for destruction or else while fleeing from army assaults in "prohibited areas".

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