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The Disturbing Story Of Fallujah’s Birth Defects

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Six years after the intense fighting began in the Iraqi town of Fallujah between US forces and Sunni insurgents, there is a disturbingly large number of cases of birth defects in the town.

Fallujah is less than 40 miles (65km) from Baghdad, but it can still be dangerous to get to.

As a result, there has been no authoritative medical investigation, certainly by any Western team, into the allegations that the weapons used by the Americans are still causing serious problems.

The Iraqi government line is that there are only one or two extra cases of birth defects per year in Fallujah, compared with the national average.

But in the impressive new Fallujah General Hospital, built with American aid, we found a paediatric specialist, Dr Samira al-Ani, who told us that she saw two or three new cases every day.

Most of them, she said, exhibited cardiac problems.

When asked what the cause was, she said: “I am a doctor. I have to be scientific in my talk. I have nothing documented. But I can tell you that year by year, the number [is] increasing.”

The specialist, like other medical staff at the hospital, seemed nervous about talking too openly about the problem.

They were well aware that what they said went against the government version, and we were told privately that the Iraqi authorities are anxious not to embarrass the Americans over the issue.

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