ERBIL, Iraq, March 8 (UPI) -- Britain established its reputation as an international leader by formally recognizing Saddam Hussein's regime committed genocide in Iraq, a Kurdish leader said.
The British Parliament last week voted unanimously to recognize the genocide of the Kurdish people by Iraq's government under Saddam.
Ali Hassan al-Majid, an Iraqi defense minister under the former Baathist regime, was executed in January 2010 for ordering chemical weapons attacks on the Kurdish population in 1988 as part of the so-called Anfal campaign. An estimated 5,000 people were killed during the assault, earning Majid the nickname Chemical Ali.
Masoud Barzani, president of Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region, said he welcomed the British decision.
"This underlines Britain's role as a leading player in the international community and we hope that it will follow up on this decision," he said in a statement. "By doing so it will be sending a clear message to all dictators and oppressors."
Barzani added that formal recognition is a step toward justice, noting it was time for the European Union and the United Nations to follow London's lead.