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The curse of Fallujah: Women warned not to have babies because of rise in birth defects since U.S. assault

Daily Mail
Thursday, 4th March, 2010

A high number of children are being born with birth defects in an Iraqi city where U.S. forces may have used chemical weapons during a fierce battle in 2004.

Children in Fallujah are being born with limb, head, heart and nervous system defects. There is even a claim that a baby was born with three heads.

The number of heart defects among newborn babies is said to be 13 times higher than the rate in Europe.

Fallujah
Fallujah

Mother’s agony: BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson is shown photographs of children with birth defects in the Fallujah clinic

The city, 40 miles west of Baghdad, was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the Iraq war in late 2004. U.S. Marines led Operation Phantom Fury to recapture it from insurgents.
British troops were involved in manning checkpoints on the outskirts of the city as the Americans went in. The U.S. has admitted that it used white phosphorus in the attack, but only as an illumination device.
Under international law it is illegal if used as an offensive weapon. America has never given a clear response to claims it also used depleted uranium weapons against the insurgents, such as ‘bunkerbuster’ bombs. Both types of weapons can contaminate crops and water supplies.

The BBC’s John Simpson reported on Thursday from Fallujah that, while there had been no authoritative medical investigation, there was growing evidence of an alarming incidence of birth defects

Fallujah

Fallujah

Collateral damage? Another Fallujah youngster born with six fingers on one hand

‘We went to a clinic for the disabled, and were given details of dozens upon dozens of cases of children with serious birth defects,’ he said. ‘One photograph I saw showed a newborn baby with three heads.’
He said that while he was at a U.S.-funded hospital in the city, a stream of parents arrived with children who had limb defects, spinal conditions and other problems.

Fallujah defects

A photograph of another disabled youngster born since the American assault on Fallujah

Fallujah defects

Mystery: An infant born with just one eye battling to stay alive in the Fallujah clinic

A British-based Iraq researcher, Malik Hamdan, told the BBC that Fallujah doctors were swamped by a ‘massive, unprecedented’ number of heart defects and other problems.

Figures from a city doctor from 2003, before the war, showed she was dealing with one birth defect every two months at that time, but was now seeing at least one case a day.

Miss Hamdan said data from this January showed the rate of heart defects among newborns was 95 per 1,000 births – 13 times that of Europe.

Simpson said that the worst problems appeared to be in a part of the city which was at the heart of the resistance to the Allies.

The Americans said they took public health concerns ‘very seriously’.

A U.S. military spokesman added: ‘No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues.’

Fallujah became infamous after the burned corpses of four U.S. contractors were dragged through the streets in March 2004. Rebel leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had gathered up to 5,000 rebels there.

It was encircled by U.S. forces, along with the Black Watch Regiment, to ensure no rebels escaped. However, civilians were encouraged to leave and up to 90 per cent of the 300,000 population did so.

The attack began late on November 7 and by November 16, U.S. officials announced that Fallujah had been cleared. The battle cost America 51 dead but up to 1,400 gunmen were killed.

Fallujah defects

A soldier from the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division leaps through an opening in a broken wall while clearing abandoned buildings of insurgent fighters in Fallujah in 2004

Fallujah defects

The battle for Fallujah: Insurgents load a rocket-propelled grenade into a launch tube during an attack on U.S. forces in Fallujah on November 8, 2004

View the original article at Daily Mail

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