Iraq fears Allied bombs caused cancer

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 10:10:09 +0100

 Basra Hospital cancer ward
Doctors blame depleted uranium from Allied weapons

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By the BBC's Rageh Omaar 
In southern Iraq        
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Iraqi doctors claim that the use of weapons containing depleted uranium
by British and American forces during the Gulf War is causing an
"epidemic of cancer". 

Allied forces have admitted using hundreds of tonnes of shells tipped
with depleted uranium against Iraqi forces in the south of the country. 

But they have denied that the weapons have caused high cancer rates. 

Iraqi health officials say the town of Basra has suffered a dramatic
rise in cancer and birth defects since 1991. 

Ten-year-old Noor is suffering from cancer

Every day the anxious faces of children and their parents line the
corridors of the cancer wards of the main hospital in Basra, southern

Ten-year-old Noor has come for a check-up and her medication. 

Tumours are spreading to different parts of her body, she is constantly
tired and has had to leave school. 

"It's the Gulf War that caused it," her mother says. 

"We have no history of cancer in our family. We live in an area that was
heavily bombed during the war and my daughter was born a year later." 

 Iraqi man clambers over wreckage of tank
Wreckage from the Gulf War still litters the former battlefields

Doctors say whole areas of southern Iraq have been contaminated. 

It is not just Iraqi civilians who feel that they have been infected. 

British veterans have the same fears too. 

The former battlefields in this area of southern Iraq are littered with
the remains of Iraqi tanks destroyed by British and American forces
using weapons with depleted uranium. 

Rising toll 

Eleven years later, doctors in this area say people are continuing to
die as a result of the use of those weapons. 

Ill-equipped hospitals are having to deal with multiple forms of cancer.

There are numerous cases of four different types within the same family
and there is even an increasing number of teenage girls with breast

Basra Hospital cancer surgeon Jawad al-Ali says: "I had not seen
tumours, they're very rare, but now it's what I could call an epidemic
of cancer." 

The British military is now re-examining the implications of using
depleted uranium in future conflicts because of the possible
consequences on its own troops. 

But many Iraqis say they are already living with those consequences. 


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