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Iranian victims of Saddam's chemical arms suing Dutch suppliers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Iranian soldier wearing a gas mask during Iraq's imposed war on Iran, in March 1985. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

Iranian victims of chemical weapons, used by the regime of Western-backed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980s war on Iran, are suing two Dutch firms for supplying chemicals to Iraq back then. 

The five victims say the two firms Melchemie (now known as Otjiaha), and Forafina Beleggingen (formerly known as KBS Holland) supplied Iraq with chemicals between 1982 and 1984 and were aware that their substances were being used to manufacture mustard gas.

Meanwhile, the firms deny the allegations, claiming the chemicals were intended for agricultural pesticide use, according to the Dutch daily de Volkskrant.

Billionaire Hans Melchers, the former owner of Melchemie, was summoned to appear in The Hague court on June 22.

Melchers is accused of directly participating in the supply of 1,850 tons of thionyl chloride, a raw material for mustard gas, to Iraq during the war.  

He denies the accusations, but his then company was sentenced in 1987 with a fine and a conditional closure for "intentionally" circumventing a ban imposed by the Dutch government to prevent the export to Iraq of materials that could be used for manufacturing weapons.

KBS Holland also faces a lawsuit for supplying Iraq with TDG, another component used in the production of mustard gas.

The five claimants suffered lasting injuries from mustard gas attacks during the war. They endure respiratory issues and disability due to damage to their lungs, eyes, and skin.

"These people’s lives were destroyed at the time," the victims' attorney Liesbeth Zegveld said, adding “These Dutch companies share a part of the responsibility for that."

During the 1980-88 war, the Iraqi army continuously employed chemical weapons against Iranian combatants and civilians, leaving tens of thousands dead on the spot and many more suffering for years to come.

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