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More Missiles Fired into Cities; Iran Threatens Chemical War

March 25, 1988

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iran and Iraq fired missiles into each other’s capitals Thursday and Tehran threatened to use chemical bombs in the war unless the United Nations punishes Iraq for using poison gas.

Iran said its troops advanced farther into Iraq’s northeastern Kurdistan province, killing or wounding 1,000 Iraqi soldiers, in a week-old offensive. Iraq denied the claim.

Shipping executives in the Persian Gulf said the captain of the 267,589-ton Friendship L supertanker reported a fire in the engine room, raising speculation the vessel may have been raided.

They said a later report from the ship, which is on charter to Iran, reported the fire extinguished and denied there had been an attack.

In Amman, Jordan, Iran left an Islamic conference after other delegates criticized it for not heeding calls to accept a cease-fire in the war, which began in September 1980, and accused it of instigating bloody riots last year in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Dispatches from Iraq said 13 people were killed and 68 wounded in two missile explosions in downtown Baghdad. Iran said four missiles were fired at Baghdad.

One victim was a woman who was breast-feeding her newborn baby in a hospital bed. The infant survived, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

Nine houses were demolished in the attacks and two other children were among the victims, it said.

The Iraqis said they launched six long-range missiles at Tehran. Iran reported 10 civilians killed and 100 wounded, and said the rockets hit two schools, two mosques and two hospitals.

Iraq has fired 42 missiles into Tehran since March 15. Iran says it has fired 16 missiles into Baghdad and dozens of short-range rockets at other Iraqi cities.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of Iran’s parliament, said Iran would use chemical weapons if no action was taken against Iraq.

″We asked the U.N. to send experts to the Halabja region (in northeast Iraq) to inspect the effects of the chemical weapons,″ he said on Tehran radio.

″If the international organizations refuse to take any step to punish Iraq, we shall not remain idle. We have the technology to produce chemical weapons, and although we have not exploited this yet, we will not remain idle forever.″

He said Iran has decided ″to punish the aggressor ourselves,″ renewing warnings that Iranian troops along the 733-mile border would launch an all-out offensive.

″At present we have forces and operational plans all over the battlefront, and should the U.N. Security Council refuse to take any step towards condemning the aggressor, we shall begin our operation,″ Rafsanjani declared.

Iran has said 5,000 people were killed and 5,000 wounded when Iraqi warplanes dropped chemical bombs on Halabja, Khormal and Dojaila, three Kurdish towns captured by the Iranians last week.

Most of Iraq’s 3.5 million Kurds live in the northeast and Iran supports them in a struggle for autonomy.

Western reporters flown to Halabja by the Iranians earlier this week reported seeing hundreds of dead civilians, unmarked by wounds. They said many had died of asphyxiation, apparently caught unaware in their homes.

U.S. State Department spokesman Charled Redman said Wednesday in Washington that Iraq had used chemical weapons, banned under a 1925 Geneva agreement, and urged the U.N. Security Council to protest. He called the Iraqi action ″a particularly grave violation.″

Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency said Iranian planes Thursday inadvertently violated Turkish airspace and dropped two bombs over southeastern Turkey near the Harbur border post, breaking windows but causing no casualties.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Inal Batu confirmed the area was bombed but said the planes’ nationality was not known yet.

Anatolia said the Iranian jets were raiding northern Iraq when they strayed over Turkey.

On Tuesday, two Iraqi jets violated Turkish airspace when they bombed Kurdish guerrilla bases in a joint security zone along the border.

Update hourly