* Chemical Ali, his real name is Ali Hassan'al-Majid, had become known under this nickname worldwide for his part in the Anfal operation when he ordered a chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja.
The gas cloud in Baghdad, meanwhile, suggests possible new and coordinated strategies by bombers trying to unleash toxic — and potentially deadly — materials. "Terrorists are using dirty means," said Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman.
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In Baghdad, a pickup truck carrying chlorine gas cylinders was blown apart, killing at least five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals gasping for breath and rubbing stinging eyes, police said.
On Tuesday, a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken north of the capital. More than 60 were still under medical care on Wednesday. Chlorine causes respiratory trouble and skin irritation in low levels and possible death with heavy exposure.
In Washington, two Pentagon officials said the tactic has been used at least three times since Jan. 28, when a truck carrying explosives and a chlorine tank blew up in Anbar province. More than a dozen people were reported killed.
A third Pentagon official said the United States has been concerned about Iraqi militants' ability to get weapons like chlorine bombs and use them effectively. But the official cautioned that chlorine bombs are just one threat on a long list of possible attacks that Iraqi fighters may try to carry out.
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W. Patrick Lang, a former official at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the insurgents are always "seeking to achieve higher levels of effectiveness" and these new tactics are part of the normal "evolution of sophistication." (!!! Probably the next step of their normal "evolution of sophistication" will be a nuclear bomb. :) NB)
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"It is an indication of maliciousness, a desire to injure and kill innocent people in the vicinity," said Garver, who also predicted militants may begin to launch similar attacks because of the widespread mayhem caused by this week's chlorine clouds.
"If there is a particular success, we'll see copycats. ... They certainly pay attention to what they think is successful," he said.
The Fall of Baghdad
The Big Day
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