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Uprising in Tuz Khormato
Part of 1991 uprisings in Iraq
Date10–24 March 1991
LocationTuz Khormato, Iraq

Iraqi government victory

  • Mass exodus of civilians
  • Government re-take town months later
Tuz Khormato is taken by rebels, then re-taken by Iraqi forces

 Iraqi government

Iraqi Kurdistan Peshmerga

  • Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
  • Kurdistan Democratic Party
  • Deserters from the Jash
Commanders and leaders
Iraq Saddam Hussein
Iraq Ali Hassan al-Majid

Jalal Talabani
Nawshirwan Mustafa

Massoud Barzani
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The 1991 uprising in Tuz Khormato refers to the Peshmerga orchestrated uprising in the Kurdo-Turkmen town of Tuz Khormato. Tuz Khormato, a largely Turkmen town, was one of the most southernly towns to fall under the control of the Peshmerga.


Tuz Khormato's importance lay in the fact that it was situated on the Baghdad–Kirkuk road, meaning that any government reinforcements to Kurdistan would have to pass through the town. The defence of Tuz Khormato was therefore given a high priority in order to defend Peshmerga positions in Kirkuk.


10–12 March

The uprising began between 10 and 12 March. Peshmerga forces had been gathering outside of the town and had organised a plan with sympathetic residents whereby at a specific time residents would begin a massive demonstration that would be joined within 2 hours by more heavily armed Peshmerga fighters. The initial stage of the uprising also received a moral boost from the defection of local militiamen.[2]

Most Ba'athist forces fled from the town without resistance, however the town did see fighting at the local Ba'ath Headquarters between the Peshmerga and Ba'athist officials and policemen, which resulted in the deaths of several pro-government forces.[1]

Government counter-offensive

15 March

Three days after the town had fallen into the hands of the Peshmerga the Ba'athist loyalist forces arrived on the outskirts of the town. The army advanced on the town from three directions, but stopped 1 km short of the city, proceeding to bombard the city through use of artillery, killing large numbers of people. Peshmerga forces returned fire with mortars and rpg's.[1]

By the fourth of fifth day of the uprising Iraqi Air Force helicopters had arrived in the area to help the army with the bombardment, and proceeded to drop napalm and phosphorus onto the town. Despite Peshmerga attempts to hit the helicopters, they were able to largely operate unmolested.[1]

17 March

Realising that their control of the town was unsustainable, the Peshmerga encouraged local civilians to leave before the town could fall. This resulted in up to 90% of its 150,000-200,000 residents fleeing into the mountains to the east of the town on the night of 17 March.

Fall of the town

After two weeks of bombardment, and despite a fierce resistance put up by the Peshmerga, the town fell to government forces. On the final day of the siege the Republican Guard and Special Units were deployed against the town. The Iraqi government also fired 5 or 6 missiles per minute at the town from the direction of Tikrit, resulting in up to 1/4 of the town being hit.[1] Other sources have suggested that up to half of the town was destroyed by the fighting.[3]


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