US soldiers exposed to chemical weapons while in Iraq, according to new report

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Zach McAuliffe
Zach McAuliffe is a University of Dayton alumni with degrees in journalism and English. He wants to present people with all the facts they need to make informed decisions on the world around them. He also enjoys Shakespeare and long walks on the beach with his puppy Lily.

When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, American troops discovered close to 5,000 chemical munitions within the country, and some of these munitions were used against American troops according to a new report released from the Pentagon.

The chemical weapons were found to be incorporated into warheads, shells, and aviation bombs, all manufactured before 1991, according to a report from the New York Times.  Various intelligence reports also show up to 17 American soldiers, along with six Iraqi police officers, were wounded and exposed to these chemical weapons on six different occasions.  However, the actual tally of exposed troops may be higher, but government officials are keeping these numbers hidden.

American troops were reportedly exposed to the nerve agent sarin gas and mustard gas, amongst other weaponized agents, according to CBS News.

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“In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies,” said the report on the chemical weapon exposure obtained through FOIA.

The report from the Times also found officers and troops were told to remain quiet on what had happened.  Recently retired Army major, Jarrod Lampier, who was present for the finding of close to 2,500 chemical weapons, said, “ ’Nothing of significance’ is what I was ordered to say.”

Because many of the troops were told to keep their exposure a secret, proper medical treatment was seemingly denied these soldiers.  One former sergeant told the New York Times, “I felt more like a guinea pig than a wounded soldier.”

The allegations of troops not receiving proper medical care in the wake of these chemical exposures also prompted Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. john Kirby to say, according to FOX News, “While we cannot speak to individual decisions made by unit commanders or medical staff at the time — or the guidance they may have given their troops about the existence of chemical munitions in Iraq — the Defense Department made public its discovery of these munitions as far back as 2006 and acknowledged the likelihood that more could be found.” 

Most of the chemical agents were also reportedly found in a complex northwest of Baghdad, and this area has been held by ISIS militants since June.  The US government says the weapons found in that area no longer pose a threat after being unused for two decades, but the presence and possible access to these chemical weapons should still be watched carefully as ISIS militants continue to threaten the area.

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