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Missiles, Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Weapons, and Conflict in the Middle East

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Late 1920s (Italy, Libya)
Italian leader Benito Mussolini secretly authorizes the use of gas bombs against Libyan rebels.

1935-1936 (Italy, Ethiopia)
During the Italo-Ethiopian War, Italian forces repeatedly attack Ethiopian soldiers and civilians with mustard gas. Italian forces are also reported to use tear gas, sneezing gas, and various asphyxiating agents. Italian leader Benito Mussolini authorizes the use of chemical weapons (CW) on 16 December 1935, with the first attack occurring on 23 December when Italian Air Force planes spray mustard gas and drop bombs filled with mustard agent on Ethiopian soldiers and villagers in the Takkaze fords. The full extent of CW use by Italy during this war is unclear. However, a 13 April 1936 letter from the Ethiopian delegate to the League of Nations to the Secretary-General alleges that Italy made 20 "poison gas attacks," with mustard gas being the agent "most frequently used."

1963-1967 (Egypt, Yemen)
Egypt employs chemical weapons in attacks against royalist forces in the Yemen civil war. Reports indicate that Egypt uses mustard gas, phosgene, and tear gas in the attacks. Egypt uses Soviet-built AOKh-25 aerial bombs to deliver phosgene, and Soviet-built KHAB-200 R5 aerial bombs as well as artillery shells abandoned by British forces after World War I to deliver mustard gas. Some reports also suggest that Egypt uses a nerve agent.]

May 1967 (Egypt, Israel)
Egyptian fighter aircraft conduct two reconnaissance flights over Israel's nuclear plutonium production reactor at Dimona.

June-December 1967 (Israel, Egypt)
Some reports claim that following the Six Day War (5-10 June), Israeli forces capture Egyptian chemical weapons, including nerve gas, mustard gas, and phosgene, which are stockpiled in the Sinai peninsula. However, a subsequent report states that an Israeli source denied that Israel captured Egyptian CW equipment.

21 October 1967 (Egypt, Israel)
An Egyptian fast patrol boat fires SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship cruise missiles at the Israeli destroyer Eilat, causing several casualties and sinking the ship.

1972-73 (Egypt, Syria)
Prior to the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, Egypt sends a small quantity of chemical weapons to Syria.[12] Although it is unclear whether the transfer occurred in 1972 or 1973, a March 1993 article in the Lebanese journal Istratigyia claims that in 1972, Egypt agreed to supply Syria with a limited quantity of chemical weapons for $6 million. These weapons are said to include artillery shells and possibly aerial bombs filled with mustard agent, and may also include sarin-filled artillery shells and aerial bombs.

6 October-November 1973 (Egypt, Israel, Syria)
During the Yom Kippur War, Egyptian armed forces fire FROG-7 artillery rockets and Scud-B ballistic missiles at Israeli targets. It is unclear how many missiles Egypt launches, but they reportedly cause only minor damage to Israeli forces and facilities.

In the opening stages of the war, Israeli and Syrian naval vessels exchange fire off the coast of Latakia, Syria. A Syrian minesweeper and three missile boats are sunk by Gabriel ship-to-ship cruise missiles fired from a task force of six Israeli navy ships. The Israeli ships are unharmed by SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship cruise missiles fired by the Syrian Osa-and Komar-class missile boats. Israeli missile boats also sink five Egyptian missile boats during the war. Egyptian forces fire SSC-2b Samlet anti-ship cruise missiles at four Israeli navy ships, but do not hit their targets. However, the Egyptian air force reportedly achieves some success with the approximately 25 AS-5 Kelt cruise missiles it fires at Israeli forces.

1980-88 (Iran, Iraq)
During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, both countries make extensive use of unguided rockets and ballistic missiles, including barrages on population centers. During the early years of the war, Iran's use of rockets and missiles is limited. It increases significantly after 1985, following importation of Scud-B ballistic missiles from Libya and North Korea. Iran is believed to fire several hundred rockets and nearly 100 Scud-B missiles at Iraqi population centers, including Baghdad, after 1985. Iraq's use of rocket and missile began earlier, and was more extensive than Iran's. While exact figures on the number of missiles fired by Iraq are classified, Iraq is known to have launched over 500 Scud-B and al-Hussein ballistic missiles during the course of the war."

Both countries also conduct hundreds of attacks on each others' port facilities and international shipping in the Persian Gulf. As of 12 October 1987, Iran had carried out 214 attacks on shipping, while Iraq had conducted 181. Ships from at least 36 countries, including Iran, were targeted in the attacks. The attacks included the use of anti-ship cruise missiles, unguided rockets, bombs, grenades, gunfire, and mines. Iraqi attacks are notable for their use of French-built Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles beginning on 27 March 1984. Beginning in September 1987, Iran begins to make use of Chinese-built Silkworm anti-ship cruise missiles to strike ships as well as Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil facilities.

30 September 1980 (Iran, Iraq)
During an Iranian attack on Iraqi electrical power plants, two US-supplied F-4 fighter aircraft bomb Iraq's Osirak nuclear research center. According to French embassy officials in Baghdad, the attack damages some auxiliary buildings at the site but does not damage the French-built Tammuz-1 power reactor.

7 June 1981 (Israel, Iraq)
Israel uses US-supplied F-16 fighter aircraft to destroy Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. Israeli leaders believe that Iraq plans to use the reactor to obtain fissile material for producing nuclear weapons. A French technician working at the plant is reportedly killed during the raid.

1984-88 (Iran, Iraq)
During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, Iraq repeatedly attacks Iranian troops with chemical weapons (CW). The first allegations of Iraqi CW attacks come in November 1980, when Tehran Radio reports Iraqi CW attacks at Susangerd. On 3 November 1983, Iran makes its first official complaint to the United Nations regarding Iraqi CW attacks. Iraq is confirmed to have used mustard and nerve agents against Iranian forces from 1983-1988. Although Iranian leaders foreswear retaliating in kind, Iran allegedly uses CW against Iraqi forces on a limited scale beginning in 1984 or 1985. Iran is believed to conduct initial CW attacks by firing captured Iraqi CW munitions at Iraqi forces. However, by the end of the war Iran reportedly employs domestically produced CW munitions against Iraqi soldiers.

25 February-March 1984 (Iraq, Iran)
Iraqi warplanes use French-supplied Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles to attack Iranian oil facilities and international shipping in the Persian Gulf.

24 March 1984 (Iraq, Iran)
Iraqi warplanes attack Iran's Bushehr nuclear power complex. The attack reportedly does not damage the reactor under construction.

12 February 1985 (Iraq, Iran)
Iraqi warplanes attack Iran's Bushehr nuclear power facility, killing one person and wounding several according to an Iranian embassy statement. Iraq denies that the attack took place.

4 March 1985 (Iran, Iraq)
Iran's IRNA press agency reports another attack by Iraqi warplanes on the Bushehr nuclear power facility.

15 April 1986 (Libya, Italy)
In retaliation for US airstrikes on Libyan facilities, Libya fires two or three Scud-B ballistic missiles at a US Coast Guard navigation station on the Italian island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean. The missiles land in the sea short of the island and cause no damage.

17 May 1987 (Iraq, United States)
An Iraqi Mirage F-1 warplane fires two Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles at the US Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf. The attack, termed an "accident" by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, severely damages the ship and kills 37 sailors.

September 1987 (Libya, Chad)
In the final phases of its military intervention in Chad, Libya reportedly uses Iranian-supplied chemical weapons against Chadian troops.

17 November 1987 (Iraq, Iran)
Iraqi warplanes attack the Bushehr nuclear reactor complex, reportedly injuring several West German engineers working at the site and killing one. However, an Iraqi military communiqué says that the attack was on "the Iranian industrial and chemical production complex at Bushehr," some 37 miles from the reactor complex.

16 February 1988 (Iraq, Iran)
Iraqi warplanes attack the Kurdish city of Halabja, Iraq, with mustard and nerve agents, killing up to 5,000 people, mostly civilians.

18 April 1988 (United States, Iran)
The United States Navy attacks Iranian offshore oil platforms in the Persian Gulf in retaliation for a 17 April mine blast that damaged the USS Wainwright. During the attack, an Iranian patrol boat fires a US-built Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile at the Wainwright, which responds by launching two Harpoons that sink the Iranian ship. In a separate incident, US forces use Harpoon missiles and laser-guided bombs to severely damage the Iranian frigate Sahand after it fires at US Navy aircraft.

20 April 1988 (Iran, Kuwait)
Iran fires a Scud-B ballistic missile at Kuwait. The missile lands near the Wafra oil field, but causes no damage.

1990s (Sudan)
After taking power in 1989, the government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is accused several times of using mustard gas by opposition forces fighting to oust the Bashir government. The allegations are not independently confirmed. After 1995, the opposition Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudanese National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and Ugandan security officials repeatedly assert that the Sudanese government produces CW with Iranian and/or Iraqi assistance, and uses mustard gas in attacks on civilians and SPLA forces in the Nuba mountains region of Sudan.

17 January-28 February 1991 (Iraq, Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United States)
During the 1990-91 Gulf War, Iraq launches over 90 conventionally-armed al-Hussein and al-Hijara ballistic missiles at targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. Iraq launches 43 of the missiles at Israel and a similar number at Saudi Arabia. Iraq also fires an undetermined number of either indigenously produced Fao-70, or Chinese-built Silkworm cruise missiles at naval targets during the Gulf War; these do not cause any damage to Coalition forces.

US Navy surface ships and submarines fire 288 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi targets. US Air Force B-52 aircraft fire 35 AGM-86 cruise missiles at Iraq. US forces also fire 32 MGM-140 ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) ballistic missiles at Iraqi logistics areas, missile sites, and rocket and artillery installations, as well as approximately seven AGM-84 Harpoon/SLAM air-launched cruise missiles at Iraqi ground targets.

17 January 1993 (United States, Iraq)
The United States launches 45 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Zaafaraniyeh industrial complex in Baghdad, due to the suspicions of United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) weapons inspectors that it is involved in producing uranium enrichment equipment and missile components.

26 June 1993 (United States, Iraq)
US President Bill Clinton orders the launch of 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles at intelligence facilities in Baghdad, Iraq, in response to an alleged Iraqi plot to assassinate former US President George Bush during his visit to Kuwait in April 1993.

May 1994 (Yemen)
In renewed fighting in Yemen's civil war, southern forces fire approximately 20 Scud-B ballistic missiles at the northern capital of Sana. In late May, northern forces fire surface-to-surface missiles at the southern capital of Aden. It is uncertain how many and what type of missiles are fired by the northern forces, and at least one report suggests that they were probably short-range artillery rockets rather than ballistic missiles.

7 November 1994 (Iran, Iraq)
Iran fires up to four Scud ballistic missiles at a military camp in Ashraf, Iraq, used by guerrilla forces of the exiled Mujahideen Khalq opposition group. Teheran radio reports that the attack causes heavy casualties at the camp, located some 80km inside Iraq.

3-4 September 1996 (United States, Iraq)
Following the August 1996 attack on Irbil by Iraqi forces entering the Kurdish safe- haven zone in northern Iraq, the United States fires 44 Tomahawk cruise missiles at eight Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites and seven air-defense command-and-control facilities.

20 August 1998 (United States, Sudan)
US Navy warships in the Red Sea launch more than a dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at the al-Shifa Pharmaceutical Factory in Khartoum, Sudan. According to US officials, the facility is involved in production of a precursor for VX nerve agent. Subsequent reports indicate that the facility was probably not involved in CW production.

16-19 December 1998 (United States, Iraq)
In response to Iraq's refusal to cooperate with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), the United States and United Kingdom conduct airstrikes and missile attacks on 100 Iraqi military sites. US Navy ships fire more than 325 RGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, while US Air Force B-52 aircraft fire 90 AGM-109 Tomahawks. US Secretary of Defense William Cohen says that the attacks "degraded [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical and biological weapons."

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Terrorist Organisations
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
* al-Qa'ida (Al-Qaeda)
Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
Aum Shinrikyo
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group, IG)
Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
* Hizballah
Japanese Red Army (JRA)
Kach and Kahane Chai
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE)
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK, MKO)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Palestine Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi Faction (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front-Abu Abbas Faction (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17 November)
Revolutionary People's Liberation Army/Front (DHKP/C)
Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA)
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL)
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)
Usama Bin Laden
Ramzi Yousef
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