U.S. depleted uranium casts horrific shadow on Iraq’s newborns
American ammunitions may be the reason behind the mounting number of babies born with birth defects in Iraq, a study revealed on Tuesday.
Accounts of children being born with cancer and birth defects have been highlighted in German newspaper Der Spiegel, where Iraqis who were interviewed were not sure of the explanation behind so many dead and deformed newborn babies in the Iraqi city of Basra.
"Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads,” Askar Bin Said, an Iraqi graveyard owner, told the newspaper, describing some of the dead newborn babies that are buried in his cemetery.
“One had a tail like a skinned lamb. Another one looked like a perfectly normal child, but with a monkey's face. Or the girl whose legs had grown together, half fish, half human," he added.
The report cites a study published in September in the Germany-based Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology saying there was a “sevenfold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003. Of 1,000 live births, 23 had birth defects,” adding that similar high numbers were reported from the city of Fallujah.
“War pollution — due to everything from heavy metals from exploded ordnance to radiation left behind by depleted uranium used on U.S ammunition and tanks — inhaled by Fallujah’s residents, seeped into the ground water, flowing in the nearby Tigris River, choking the air they breathe,” a report from Global Research said on Tuesday.
Such illnesses found in children include of hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") cases, spinal cord abnormality and a high concentration of lead in the milk teeth found in sick children.
The Der Spiegel report drew ties between the use of uranium ammunition on the country during years of fighting, adding that Iraq-based cancer specialist Jawad al-Ali noticed a spike in “double and triple cancers.”
"There is a connection between cancer and radiation. Sometimes it takes 10 or 20 years before the consequences manifest themselves," he told the newspaper.
"It isn't just that the number of cancer cases suddenly increased. We also had double and triple cancers, that is, patients with tumors on both kidneys and in the stomach. And there were also familial clusters, that is, entire families that were affected,” he added.