news.com.au (Australia) 03/24/03 (AFP)
IRAQI commanders have been authorised to use chemical weapons against Shiite Muslims in the south of the country and blame the attacks on US forces, a senior American official has claimed.
The State Department official said reports led Washington to believe Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had given such authority to one of his top generals, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who is also known as Chemical Ali.
He was blamed for the poison gas attack 15 years ago in the Kurdish town of Halabja.
“We have reports that would indicate the Iraqis intend to or could use chemical weapons in the south,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“Chemical Ali, the general who carried out the Halabja massacre, is reported to have authority to use chemical weapons against the Shia and then try to blame it on us.”