From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:

While other bloodbaths have
diverted concern from Saddam
Hussein’s purge of Shiites from
Southern Iraq, an effect of the killing
may soon be evident throughout
Europe, Asia, and
northern Africa, when waterfowl
numbers crash as result of the
drainage of about half the 6,000
square miles of wetland between the
Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The
wetland is perhaps the most impor-
tant feeding, resting, and breeding
area for migratory birds in the
Middle East. Saddam ordered the
the rivers diverted in August 1992,
ostensibly for irrigation but more
plausibly to drive the Shiites, who
oppose his regime, into Shiite-con-
trolled Iran. The wetlands are the
traditional Shiite stronghold.

New York Times corre-
spondent Chris Hedges reported
November 12 that Iraqi units have
hit remote Shiite villages with
chemical weapons that apparently
combine defoliants with a lethal
nerve gas. Afterward, refugee
Hussein Kamel told Hedges, “Trees
and plants were withered and yel-
low. The cats, the dogs, the birds
and even the water snakes died.”
The remains of human victims were
apparently removed and secretly
burned or buried. “The diversion of
rivers has also killed off the lumber-
ing water buffalo that were a part of
most households,” Hedges wrote.
The misery of Shiite refugees
––mostly families with small chil-
dren––is compounded by an Iraqi
embargo on shipments of food and
medicine into the region, while
escape is made risky by fortified
dikes that surround the region.
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