48 Terrifying Times Deadly Chemicals Were Used During Biological Warfare

48 Terrifying Times Deadly Chemicals Were Used During Biological Warfare

By Trista
48 Terrifying Times Deadly Chemicals Were Used During Biological Warfare

Battle axes and catapults defined medieval warfare; however, combat in the twentieth and twenty-first century means annihilation of large numbers of people from a long distance. In other words: biological and chemical warfare. From notorious world wars to tiny towns just decades ago, you might be surprised at how often these deadly poisons are used. They are utilized all across the globe from local and international terrorists. Read on to learn about times that biological and chemical warfare agents were used, often against civilian populations.

World War I was defined by trench warfare and the widespread use of chemical agents. Credit: Wikimedia Commons


1. World War I: 90,000 Dead, 1.3 Million Wounded

Chlorine gas, phosgene, and mustard gas contributed to nearly 100,000 deaths during the years from 1914 until 1918. Chlorine and mustard gas are both irritants that can be lethal at high doses. They can cause severe burns, blindness, and other injuries in those who survive attacks.

Phosgene became the weapon of choice for the Allied powers during World War I. This colorless and nearly odorless gas was so stealthy that many soldiers did not know that they had been afflicted with it until days later when their lungs filled with fluid and they asphyxiated.

Winston Churchill attempted to curtail the Russian Revolution through the use of chemical weapons. Credit: Pinterest

2: British Military on the Red Army, 1919: Unknown Casualties

Winston Churchill is still acclaimed for his heroic leadership during World War II, but the former prime minister of the United Kingdom frequently meddled in the affairs of other countries, with devastating consequences. He was an advocate of chemical warfare and planned to use it against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War.

In August and September of 1919, he authorized 50,000 M Devices – exploding shells filled with toxic gas – to be dropped in northern Russia. The number of casualties remains unknown.

The Red Army attacked its own civilians with chemical weapons. Credit: Cargo Collective

3. Red Army on Peasant Rebels and Civilians, 1921: Unknown Casualties

The Tambov Rebellion was a peasant revolt against the Bolshevik regime, which had just gained power in Russia. To quell the rebellion, Bolshevik forces followed in the footsteps of Winston Churchill by deploying chemical weapons from June of 1921 through the fall.

We don’t know how many people died in the chemical attacks on the peasant army and civilians in the area. We do know that during the Tambov Rebellion, an estimated 240,000 people died.

Morocco and Spain are separated by a small strait of water. Credit: Wikimedia

4. Spanish Military Against Rif Tribes in Morocco, 1924-1925: Estimated 1,000 Casualties

The Rif Wars were a series of conflicts in Morocco that saw uprisings of the Berber tribes in the mountainous Rif areas against the Spanish colonial government. The Rif Wars occurred from 1921 until 1927. 

During this time, the Spanish military became one of the first powers to authorize the use of chemical weapons against a civilian population. Its primary use of chemical weapons was in 1921; between 1924 and 1925, it deliberately targeted civilian populations. An estimated 1,000 people died, but the actual number of casualties may be much higher. The toxic effects of the gas can still be felt today by the people in the Rif region.

Location of Manchuria region of China. Credit: Britannica

5. Japanese Military Against Prisoners in Ping Fan, Manchuria, 1932-1945: 1,000 Casualties, 2,000 Wounded

Imperial Japan weaponized biological agents and performed medical experiments on Chinese prisoners. One of the Japanese doctors’ favorites was vivisection, a procedure in which a live patient would be cut open to examine the effects of an infection that the doctors had deliberately given the person.

The Japanese military poisoned Chinese water supplies with cholera and doused entire areas with Bubonic plague to intentionally make people sick. They claimed to be performing medical experiments in a scary harbinger to Nazi Germany and Dr. Mengele.

Location of Xinjiang province, where many of China’s Uyghur Muslims live. Credit: Grassland/Rich Clabaugh/Staff

6. Soviet Military Against Chinese Soldiers, Xinjiang, 1934-1937: Unknown Casualties

In 1934, 7000 Soviet troops, armed with mustard gas, invaded China in the attempt to take over Xinjiang. Xinjiang is a province in China that is densely populated with Chinese Muslims. 

To subdue a rebellion there and attempt to bring Xinjiang into the Soviet bloc, the Soviet military used chemical weapons, especially mustard gas, against Chinese soldiers. The Chinese government hid what was going on, declaring it “Japanese propaganda,” to try to avoid an international incident and to secure flows of Soviet weapons to aid in the war against Japan in Manchuria. We don’t know how many people died. 

Credit: Pinterest

Location of Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa.

7. Italian Military Against Ethiopian Soldiers, 1935-1936: 15,000 Casualties

In 1925, Italy became a signatory to the Geneva Protocol, a convention adopted by the League of Nations to ban the use of biological and chemical agents in war. Still, ten years later, Italy’s dictator Benito Mussolini used mustard gas to decimate the Ethiopian military.

Italy and Germany were in a race to bring as much of Africa as possible under their control, as part of their bid for world domination. Chemical weapons would become part and parcel of their means of accomplishing this ultimate goal. In the attack on the Ethiopian military, an estimated 15,000 soldiers died. 

Artists depiction of Japanese troops massacring Chinese soldiers. Credit: China-Mike


8. Japanese Military Against Chinese Soldiers and Civilians, 1938-1945: 10,000 Casualties, 72,0000 Wounded

During the Sino-Japanese War, which lasted from 1931-1945, Japan used chemical weapons against the Chinese over 2000 times, despite being a signatory to the Geneva Protocol, which banned the use of chemical weapons. 

Between 1938 and 1945, the use of chemical weapons by the Japanese military led to the deaths of 10,000 people and a further 72,000 were injured. After Japan retreated from China, it left behind the weapons. Today, they are leaking into water supplies and causing further harm to the Chinese population.

Jaslo lies very close to Poland’s border with Germany. Credit: Flickr


9. Polish Resistance Against Nazi Soldiers, 1939: 2 Casualties, 12 Wounded

The Nazi invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939. Jaslo, a Polish town close to the German border, became an essential site of the Polish resistance. One week into the invasion, on September 8, members of the opposition used mustard gas in an attempt to thwart the invading army.

The attack was less than successful, as only two people died. It did stir the ire of the Nazi military and was met with harsh reprisals. Polish political prisoners, including members of the resistance, became some of the first prisoners at Auschwitz.

Fighting in the Sino-Japanese War. Credit: Tumblr

10. Japanese Military Against Chinese Cities, 1940-1942: 2400 Casualties, 10,000 Wounded

The Sino-Japanese War saw some of the most atrocious war crimes in history. At the time, though, the world was too embroiled in World War II to be able to provide any assistance. From 1940 until 1942, the Japanese military deliberately targeted Chinese cities with bioagents.

Cholera and other diseases were disseminated among Chinese civilians when the Japanese military contaminated the water supply. This was in addition to chemical attacks being launched. The attacks were so extensive that some Japanese soldiers also died from the damage. 

The Nazi flag, which flew over most of Europe during World War II.  Credit: History

11. Nazi Military Against Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War, 1941-1945: 1.6 Million Casualties

With the use of chemical agents in warfare proliferating, the Nazi military realized that it could use a chemical known as Zyklon B to murder large numbers of people quickly. They would get the prisoners into a room before venting in gas that would kill everyone.

An estimated 1.6 million people died in Nazi gas chambers. This is only a fraction of the total number of deaths caused by the Nazi military. The death toll was six million Jews and an untold number of soldiers and civilians across Europe and Africa.

Location of Bari, Italy, where German fighter planes sunk many Allied ships. Credit: Novinate

12. Accidental Targeting of Italian Civilians, 1943: 83 Casualties, 628 Wounded

In December 1943, a German reconnaissance plane discovered a large number of Allied ships docked at the port in Bari, Italy. That same day, the German government organized an air raid to destroy the vessel, one of which, the John Harvey, was carrying on board 2000 bombs of mustard gas. 

When John Harvey was struck, tons of mustard gas was released into the city, leading to the deaths of 83 people. A cloud of sulfur hung overhead and rained down mustard gas, causing hundreds of people to become hurt. Those attending to the wounded were not trained in mustard gas injuries.

The Jewish terrorists sought to retaliate for the crimes committed at Auschwitz. Credit: HuffPost

13. Jewish Avengers Against Former Nazi Soldiers, 1946: 2,283 Wounded

In retaliation for the horrific war crimes of the Holocaust, Jewish units spent decades hunting down former Nazi soldiers and enacting their own form of vigilante justice. On April 14, 1946, a group of Jewish terrorists laced 3000 loaves of bread, destined for a POW camp housing former Nazis, with arsenic.

The plot ultimately failed, and there were no known casualties of the mass arsenic poisoning. Over 2000 former Nazis became sick with cholera-like symptoms, even though the amount of arsenic used was more than enough to cause mass casualties. To this day, no one is sure why the attack failed.

US forces sprayed Agent Orange on the jungles of Vietnam. Credit: Retiree News

14. US Military Use of Agent Orange in Vietnam, 1961-1971: Unknown Casualties

When the US military began intervening in the war in Vietnam, the jungles were too thick and dense for the soldiers to navigate them easily. Scientists designed an herbicide that came to be known as Agent Orange; Agent Orange heavily deforested the jungles of Vietnam.

It also caused immense injuries and an unknown death toll among the Vietnamese people. Though the chemical was explicitly designed as an herbicide, its effects on humans had not been thoroughly tested and documented. The results of Agent Orange on the civilian population of Vietnam can still be seen today.

Map showing the location of Yemen. Credit: Business Insider

15. Egyptian Military Against Yemeni Soldiers and Civilians, 1963-1967: 527 Casualties

In the 1960s, Egypt was engaged in a little-known war against Yemen to assert cultural hegemony over the Arab region. As part of the war, it included in multiple campaigns that involved dropping phosgene, mustard gas, and nerve agents on villages and other civilian targets.

One such attack occurred on the Yemeni village of Kitaf on January 5, 1967, when Egyptian air forces dropped 27 phosgene bombs onto the villagers. An estimated 150 people died in the attack, and hundreds more were wounded in an attack that effectively wiped out the village.

Map showing the location of Laos. Credit: Operation World

16. Laotian and Vietnamese Militaries Against Laotian Civilians, 1975-1983: 6,504 Casualties

In what has come to be known as the Third Indochina War, an almost undocumented event that began in 1975 and continues to this day with sporadic uprisings, the Laotian and Vietnamese militaries unleashed tons of chemicals against citizens of Laos, part of the area once known as Indochina.

Many refugees, who fled to Thailand, claimed that chemical agents were used on civilian populations in an incident that came to be known as “yellow rain.” An investigation came up inconclusive but found that the Soviet Union, which was aiding the communist regimes of Laos and Vietnam, had probably not engaged in chemical warfare. However, the Vietnamese and Laotian militaries had been involved in at least 261 campaigns of the chemical war, which killed 6,504 people.

American planes covered the Vietnamese jungles with Agent Orange. Credit: Military.com

17. Vietnamese Military Against Civilians and Soldiers in Kampuchea, 1978-1983: 1,014 Casualties

We know the area as Cambodia, but the local people usually refer to it as Kampuchea. During the Cambodian-Vietnamese War, Cambodian communists aligned with Vietnam established the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, which ended the terrifying reign of Pol Pot and the Cambodian genocide.

However, as part of the ongoing war, the Vietnamese military unleashed chemical weapons on at least 124 occasions. The use of chemical weapons was against rebel forces hiding out in Cambodian strongholds and led to the deaths of over 1000 people, including many civilians.

Jim Jones, the leader of the People’s Temple. Credit: The Famous People

18. Mass Suicide of People’s Temple, 1978: 913 Casualties

Jim Jones was the quintessential cult leader; many people think of him when they hear about cults. He was the leader of a group known as the People’s Temple, which, in the 1960s, was a religious group committed to mutual sharing and promoting the common welfare.

In the 1970s, the increasingly paranoid and delusional Jones moved the group to Guyana, away from the prying eyes of the US government. In 1978, he and the leaders of the group forced everyone, including children, to drink Kool-Aid laced with cyanide, sometimes at gunpoint. Only a handful of people survived.

The Kremlin denied responsibility for the release of the anthrax toxin. Credit: Down to Earth

19. Accidental Anthrax Release Among Russian Civilians, 1979: 68 Casualties, 300 Wounded

In April 1979, there was a mysterious outbreak of anthrax among civilians in Russia who lived in Sverdlovsk, present-day Ekaterinburg, near a biological weapons facility. An estimated 68 people died, along with countless livestock. Initially, Soviet leaders claimed the outbreak was due to tainted meat.

However, some international scientists had suspicions about the source of the outbreak and believed that, despite the Geneva Protocol, the Soviet Union was engaging in biological and chemical warfare. Those suspicions were confirmed in 1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Boris Yeltsin allowed a team of international investigators to look into what had happened.

They found that the military had released anthrax from the biological weapons facility, and all of the people who became infected lived in a straight line, downwind from the factory. The anthrax was released in aerosol form, but the investigation was unable to conclude if the release was accidental or intentional. 

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan began in 1979. Credit: Wikimedia

20. Soviet and Afghan Militaries Against Rebel Soldiers and Civilians, 1979-1981: 3,042 Casualties

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the ensuing war, which lasted nearly an entire decade, led to massive casualties, including civilians, and the transformation of Afghanistan from a thriving, modern society to the oppressive, primitive civilization that exists there today. 

During the war, there were numerous reports of the Soviets using chemical weapons, often indiscriminately among civilian populations. Between 1979 and 1982 there were 43 chemical weapons attacks, which killed over 3000 people, many of them civilians. The use of chemical weapons became so widespread that it was reported in every area of Afghanistan that had resistance activity.

While receiving assistance from the US government, Saddam Hussein embarked on a chemical weapons program in the 1980s. Credit: NY Post

21. Iraqi Military Against Iranian Soldiers and Civilians, 1983-1988: 21,000 Casualties, 92,000 Wounded

The Iran-Iraq War was a bloody conflict that led to the deaths of over one million people. Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein invaded in the effort of preventing the revolution from spreading to Iraq’s Shi’a-majority population. His use of chemical weapons against Iranians was prolific and supported by the US government.

Despite the known use of chemical weapons by Saddam, there was little international outcry to oppose the regime. In retaliation to the attacks by Iraq, scientists in Iran began developing chemical weapons to deploy against Iraqis. 

The leader of the cult that infected over 750 people with salmonella. Credit: Matthew NAYTHONS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

22. Salmonella Poisoning by Bhadwan Shree Rajneesh Cult Against Civilians in Oregon, 1984: 751 Wounded

The Dalles is a town in Oregon that became the target of a bioterror attack by a cult known as Bhadwan Shree Rajneesh, named after its founder. The group hoped to cause the city’s population to become so sick that they would be unable to participate in the next election, enabling the group’s candidate to become elected easily. 

Members of the cult used the biological agent salmonella to poison the people of The Dalles. They sprinkled the agent on salad bars and in salad dressing, and also put it in water glasses. All told, 751 people became sick, though there were no deaths. The founder of the cult accused his followers of carrying out the attack and urged the government to investigate. 

The toxic smoke that was emitted into Bhopal. Credit: dnaindia

23. Accidental Release of Methyl Isocynate Gas in Bhopal, India, 1984: 3,787 Casualties, 558,125 Wounded

Union Carbide had a chemical plant in Bhopal, a city in central India, produced chemicals that escaped into a toxic gas cloud when a valve at the plant exploded. Methyl isocynate gas spewed out across the city and poisoned the population. Entire families died immediately, and over half a million people were injured. Absolute panic and chaos ensued.

Three workers at the plant were arrested on chemical charges related to the explosion, and Union Carbide – now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical – gave a large payout to the Indian government to compensate the victims. However, victims’ rights groups believe that the payout was a paltry sum compared to the damage caused, and they are still fighting for justice.

Map showing the location of Iran. Credit: Operation World

24. Iranian Military Against Iraqi Soldiers, 1987-1988: Unknown Casualties

In retaliation for the mass number of casualties caused by chemical weapons that Iraq used against Iran during the long and bloody Iran-Iraq War, Iran began its own weapons-building programs. In 1987, it began deploying chemical weapons against Iraqi soldiers that were invading Iran.

It is uncertain what the death toll was of Iran’s chemical weapons program during the Iran-Iraq War. What is clear is that both sides violated the Geneva Protocol, which they were both parties to, and committed war crimes in the deployment of chemical weapons. Both teams set a dangerous precedent and are likely still involved in the development of chemical and biological weapons. 

Zamboanga City is over 500 miles from the capital of Manila. Credit: Wikivoyage

25. Terrorists Against Policemen in Philippines, 1987: 19 Casualties, 140 Wounded

Zamboanga City, 530 miles south of the Philippine capital of Manila, has seen more than its fair share of conflict and violence. In 1987, a group of recruits to the police academy fell ill after going for a run. Immediate reports claimed that they had suffered heat stroke, but later documents pointed to poisoning. 

In an area plagued by gang activity and sectarian violence, a terrorist group poisoned the water supply at the police constabulary with a pesticide. Of the recruits who fell ill, 19 died. Many reported that an unidentified person had given them ice bags, which were probably also laced with the pesticide.

Graveyard in Halabja, where nearly all of the villagers were killed. Credit: aljazeera.com

26. Iraqi Military Against Kurdish Village of Halabja, 1988: 5,000 Casualties, 8,000 Wounded

Halabja was a village in Iraqi Kurdistan that, under the reign of terror that Saddam Hussein represented, was decimated in a chemical attack. On March 16, 1988, nearly two dozen Iraqi fighter planes flew overhead and dropped bombs filled with mustard gas, sarin, tabun, and possibly also cyanide.

By the time the villagers realized what had happened, it was too late. Witnesses said that a cloud of smoke billowed 150 up into the air; that cloud was composed of poisonous gases that killed over 5000 people, many of them civilians. 

Map showing the location of Turkey. Credit: Pinterest

27. Terrorists Against Turkish Village of Ormancik, 1994: 16 Casualties

The Kurdish people, who comprise a minority in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and some other countries, lack a state and are prone to severe oppression by the state governments in which they live. The PKK, officially seen as a Kurdish terrorist organization, formed as a reaction against tyranny, particularly in Turkey.

In January 1994, members of the PKK invaded the Turkish villages of Ormancik and Akyurek and threw in grenades that were filled with chemical weapons. Four guards, nine women, and six children died in the attack. 

Shoko Asahara, the founder of Aum Shinrikyo. Credit: senpaicoasttocoast.com

28. Aum Shinrikyo Cult Against Japanese Civilians, 1994: 7 Casualties, 270 Wounded

Aum Shinrikyo is a doomsday cult in Japan that was founded in 1984 by Shoko Asahara. The group has been accused of forcing people to join against their will, deceiving recruits, making false accusations and blackmailing members, and forcing people to give money.

Members of Aum Shinrikyo engaged in multiple terror attacks, including spraying the anthrax bacteria from a building in the hopes of causing an epidemic. In 1993, the group began to manufacture sarin, a powerful nerve agent. The next year, it released sarin into Matsumoto, a large Japanese city to try to kill people involved in a lawsuit against cult members. Eight people died.

The cult targeted the massive subway system of Tokyo. Credit: yesofcorsa.com

29. Aum Shinrikyo Cult Against Japanese Civilians, 1995: 12 Casualties, 5,511 Wounded

The year following Aum Shinrikyo’s first sarin attack in Matsumoto, it engaged in a more massive, and much more lethal, assault in the capital city of Tokyo. During the morning rush hour on March 20, 1995, cult members released a chemical similar to sarin on five different Tokyo subways.

In the attack, 13 people died, 54 were seriously wounded, and thousands more were wounded. The entire city went into a state of crisis. The cult never confessed to carrying out the attacks, but in 2018, the Japanese government executed the leader Shoko Asahara and other cult members.

Magnification of the anthrax bacteria. Credit: floxiehope

30. Anthrax Attack on US Government Employees, 2001: 5 Casualties, 17 Injured

While the nation was still reeling from the attacks of September 11, the threat of a massive anthrax attack shook people to the core. The scare began when people working in the US government buildings in Washington, DC, opened envelopes and were greeted with a white powder, which contained anthrax.

The FBI filed charges against Dr. Bruce Ivins in 2008, but he took his own life. In what became the worst biological attack on US territory, not least because of the terror that it inspired, five people died, and 17 people were injured. There are still theories that the government itself planned the attack as a scarecrow.

Map of Russia, with Chechnya highlighted in red. Credit: Randy Report/Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

31. Russian Military Against Chechen Terrorists and Hostages, 2002: 124 Casualties, 501 Injured

Chechnya is a province of Russia that has tried to assert independence for many years. Following the end of a war with Russia in 1996, Chechen terrorists have carried out multiple attacks against Russian civilians. In 2002, they took over 700 people hostage when 50 terrorists stormed a theatre in Moscow during a sold-out performance.

Russian forces pumped in a fentanyl-based incapacitating agent into the theatre to cause the terrorists to become unconscious. Though they did end the hostage situation, 124 people died from the gas that the Russian forces used.

Changde, where high school children were poisoned in the school cafeteria. Credit: Visit Around China

32. Chinese Criminals Poisoned Food at High School, 2002: 193 Wounded

Two caterers that served a Chinese high school in the city of Changde got into a dispute with the school over their contract. In retaliation, they put rat poison in some of the breakfast food that was served to students at Number One High School.

None of the children or teachers who consumed the food died; however, 193 became ill. The incident was considered a criminal rather than a terrorist attack. This was not the only time that food at Chinese schools have been laced with rat poison.

The explosion of a sulfur bomb. Credit: Time

33. Iraqi Terrorists Used Sulfur Against Soldiers and Civilians, 2003: Unknown Casualties

In 2002, as part of the War on Terror, the United States invaded Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, a dictator that the CIA had put in power and armed in the 1980s. Terrorists responded with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other means of targeting American troops.

In 2003 near Mosul, a group of terrorists attempted to thwart the American advance by setting fire to sulfur mines. Poisonous fumes of sulfur dioxide poured out onto both soldiers and civilians. There is no specific data on how many civilians died or were wounded, but 41 soldiers were injured in the attack. 

American soldiers in Iraq during the infamous war. Credit: NY Times

34. Iraqi Terrorists Used Sarin Against US Soldiers in Baghdad, 2004: 2 Wounded

The improvised explosive devices that terrorists in Iraq used against American soldiers often used whatever materials they had handy. Those struck by IEDs sometimes found coins, various pieces of metal, and even teeth embedded in their skin and uniforms.

In 2004, an IED loaded with the nerve gas sarin, which can be fatal in small doses, failed to explode properly. Two soldiers were injured. Had it exploded as intended, the sarin could have caused massive damage to both the military and civilian populations.

Mustard gas attack. Credit: WND

35. Iraqi Terrorists Used Mustard Gas Against US Soldiers in Baghdad, 2006: 2 Wounded

For American soldiers deployed to Iraq, the most imminent danger was often IEDs. They were frequently not only hidden from view but also undetectable. No one had any idea of the threat until the device had already exploded and caused injuries or even fatalities.

In Baghdad in 2006, terrorists constructed an IED that was filled with mustard gas. The mustard gas was inside chemical weapon artillery shells, which may have been leftover from when the CIA armed Iraqi forces in the 1980s in the Iran-Iraq War. Two soldiers were injured in the attack.

Numaniyah has seen intense fighting in recent years. Credit: US Army photo by Staff Spc. Adam Hefner

36. Iraqi Terrorists Poisoned Food at Police Base in Numaniyah, 2006: 7 Casualties, 700 Wounded

In 2006, hundreds of Iraqi police officers became ill with food poisoning following a terrorist attack. The officers were all eating at the mess hall at their base in the city of Numaniyah. At first, reports claimed that only 350 people had become sick. Soon, though, the toll rose to 700.

Due to the political instability at the time, investigations into the source of the poisoning were inconclusive. It is not known who perpetrated the attack or what agent was used on the supply at the police base.

Chlorine gas explosion. Credit: Peter Clifford Online

37. Iraqi Terrorists Used Chlorine Against Civilians in Ramadi, Baghdad, Fallujah, et all, 2006-2007: 115 Casualties, 854 Wounded

As the war in Iraq progressed, and the country fell into complete disintegration and chaos, chlorine bombs became increasingly used by terrorists against civilian populations. Beginning in 2006, insurgents began filling tanks with chlorine gas and placing them into trucks, which were then detonated.

Over the following year, 115 people would die, and many more were injured in these attacks; the vast majority of the casualties were Iraqi children. Those who died usually killed in the initial explosion, while the wounded were affected by the ensuing release of chlorine gas.

Mustard gas, used prolifically during World War I, is now a favorite of terrorist groups. Credit: Tumblr

38. Iraqi Terrorists Used Mustard Gas Against US Soldiers, 2007: 2 Wounded

The use of chemical weapons in Iraq is long and tragic. The irony is that the US government initially helped the Iraqi military gain the capacity to use chemical weapons, even if only indirectly, by aiding the Saddam region in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.

In 2007, Iraqi terrorists once again used chemical weapons against American troops when they filled an IED with mustard gas. None of the soldiers died, but two were wounded. Damage caused by mustard gas can include massive skin burns, blindness, and lung damage. 

Afghan girls can be targeted just for going to school. Credit: Rich Wain Wright

39. Afghan Terrorists Used Pesticides Against Girls Schools in Kabul, Kunduz, et al., 2010: 672 Wounded

Following the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002, girls eagerly returned to school, and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) established many schools specifically for girls. Members of the Taliban and other terrorist groups responded by attacking girls schools.

No one died when terrorists poisoned at least 20 girls schools in Kabul, Kandahar, and other areas of Afghanistan with pesticide. However, hundreds of children and teachers fell ill, and some experienced permanent injuries. Attacks on girls who attend school and women who go to work have long been a threat of the Taliban and other terrorist groups. 

Police officers in Afghanistan can also be the targets of chemical weapons attacks.Credit: america.aljazeera

40. Afghan Terrorists Used Rat Poison Against Police and Civilians, 2012-2013: 53 Casualties, 40 Wounded

From March 2012 until April 2013, terrorists targeted police officers in Afghanistan by poisoning their food. After the officers and other targets were incapacitated from the poison, they were targeted by armed forces and killed.

About 53 people, namely police officers, and civilians, died in the attacks. There were nine attacks, which may have been coordinated among terror cells. The terrorists appear to have been attempting to cripple the infrastructure and government in the country so that they could regain control.

Afghan girls who attend school are remarkably brave. Credit: Time

41. Afghan Terrorists Used Pesticides Against Girls Schools in Takhar and Sar-e-Pul Provinces, et al., 2012-2013: 1,952 Wounded

Attacks on girls schools by the Taliban and other terrorists continued, especially as the Taliban began to reclaim control of tribal areas in more remote regions of Afghanistan. Between 2012 and 2013, 53 people died in attacks that involved pesticides.

At least 23 girls’ schools were targeted by the terrorists. Some of the schools became the targets of water poisoning when pesticides were intentionally used to contaminate the schools’ water supplies. There were no known deaths, but nearly 2000 people were wounded, the vast majority of them children.

Map showing the different fronts in Syria. Credit: BBC

42. Syrian Military Against Civilians and Rebel Soldiers, 2013: 44+ Casualties, 76 Wounded

The civil war in Syria began in 2011 when uprisings that were part of the broader Arab Spring failed to topple the autocratic regime of President Bashar al-Asad. In the time since, the regime forces, led by Asad, have been accused of multiple chemical attacks, particularly against civilian populations.

The use of chemical weapons began in 2013, with multiple chemical agents being used against rebel forces that were attempting to overthrow Asad. There were numerous attacks, and the Syrian government did not claim responsibility for any of them. It blamed the rebels, who likely also carried out chemical attacks.

The children of Syria have borne the brunt of the war. Credit: ABC News

43. Syrian Military Used Sarin Against Civilians in Damascus Suburbs, 2013: 1,429 Casualties, 2200 Wounded

The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government forces culminated on the attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. Rockets were fired into the densely populated urban areas to the east and south of Damascus, areas that were held by rebel forces.

In the attack, nearly 1500 people were killed, including over 400 children. The vast majority of the casualties were civilians. The event sparked international outcry and led the international community to coordinate an effort to remove chemical weapons from Syria.

The chemical attacks in Syria are some of the worst in human history. Credit: Independent

44. Syrian Military Used Chlorine Bombs Against Civilians in Damascus, et al., 2014: 104 Casualties, 200 Wounded

Despite international agreements and plans to disarm the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons programs, the use of chemical weapons against chemicals continued. The system continued to deny responsibility for the attacks and blamed groups like the al-Nusra Front, ISIS, and the rebel forces.

In 2014, the Syrian military was likely responsible for the use of chlorine bombs against civilians in Damascus, Kafr Zita in the Hama province, and Talmenes in the Idlib province. Over 100 people were killed in the attack, all of them civilians. A further 200 were injured.

Image of mustard gas exploding. Credit: Time

45. ISIS Terrorists Used Chlorine and Mustard Gas Bombs Against Iraqi and Shi’ite Soldiers, 2014: 40 Wounded

In 2014, the Middle East further destabilized when a longstanding terrorist group known as ISIS, which had long been active in Syria, swept through Iraq and took vast swathes of territory. Thousands of civilians and soldiers were massacred in brutal fashions, including Iraqi Christians being crucified in public executions.

To help accomplish the military campaigns, members of ISIS used mustard gas and chlorine bombs to subdue Shi’ite and Iraqi soldiers that attempted to overcome them. None of the soldiers died in the attack, but 40 were wounded. 

Kurdish forces assembled to fight off ISIS. Credit: Fruturity

46. ISIS Terrorists Used Chlorine Against Kurdish Soldiers in Iraq, 2015: Estimated 30 Wounded

Kurdish soldiers became some of the most successful forces against ISIS and were keen to defend their homeland from incursion by the terrorist group. Unsurprisingly, they became the targets of many ISIS attacks, including those that used chemical agents.

In 2015, ISIS fighters used chlorine bombs against Kurdish soldiers in the attempt to repel their advance and maintain control of their territory. The chlorine bomb was loaded onto a truck, which was detonated. Though none of the Kurds died in the attack 30 were wounded.

Aerial view of Kirkuk, a city in Iraq. Credit: Talos-Iraq

47. ISIS Terrorists Used Blistering Agent Against Civilians in Kirkuk, Iraq, 2016: 1 Casualty, 600 Wounded

Kirkuk is an Iraqi city that has long had a troubled history, especially in modern times, due to sectarian violence and, more recently, the rapid tyranny of ISIS. In 2016, international forces, which included many Kurdish troops, pushed ISIS into retreat and caused it to lose much of its territory.

ISIS retaliated by deploying a blistering agent. The blistering agent that ISIS terrorists used in this attack on civilians in Kirkuk is unknown. Tragically, the only death was that of a three-year-old child. 

Mosul bore the brunt of ISIS’s reign of terror. Credit: Time

48. ISIS Terrorists Used Sulfur Against Civilians and Soldiers Near Mosul, 2016: 2 Casualties, 1500 Wounded

The battle for Mosul was possibly the bloodiest in the move to liberate Iraq from the terrifying reign of ISIS. Despite careful international strategizing, there were mass civilian casualties, due to the fighting, breakdown of law and order, and starvation.

In a counterattack against the encroaching forces, terrorists connected to ISIS set fire to a sulfur mine near Mosul. Sulfur dioxide fumes spread over the city and injured an estimated 1500 individuals. Two people died in the attack that targeted both civilians and soldiers indiscriminately. 



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