''Smoking gun'' evidence against Iraq turns out to contain pesticide
A facility near Baghdad that a US officer had claimed might finally be "smoking gun" evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons production turned out to contain pesticide, not sarin gas as originally thought.
A military intelligence officer for the US 101st Airborne Division's aviation brigade, Captain Adam Mastrianni, told AFP that profound tests Monday determined the presence of the pesticide compounds.
Initial tests had reportedly detected traces of sarin, after US soldiers guarding the facility near Hindiyah, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad, became ill. Mastrianni said: "They thought it was a nerve agent. That's what it tested. But it is pesticide."
Mastrianni added that the dozen sick soldiers, who had become nauseated, dizzy and developed skin blotches, had all recovered.
The belated correction was an embarrassment for the US forces in the region, who had been quick to say that they thought they had finally found the proof they have been actively looking for, that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction.
A spokesman for the US army's 3rd Infantry Division, Major Ross Coffman, had told journalists at Baghdad's airport that the site "could be a smoking gun". "We are talking about finding a site of possible weapons of mass destruction," he had added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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