Haroon Siddiqui writes at the Toronto Star:
Remember Falluja? That city in central Iraq was the scene of two furious attacks in 2004 by American Marines. That spring, they went on a bombing, shooting rampage to avenge the murder and mutilation of four American mercenaries. Instead of targeting the estimated 2,000 insurgents, the Marines almost levelled the city of 300,000, without conquering it. Seven months later, they attacked again with artillery and bombs in what was described as the bloodiest urban warfare involving Americans since the Vietnam War.
Remember Basra? That southern Iraqi city has been suffering since the first Gulf War, in 1991. Radioactive residue from the 800 tons of bombs and 1 million rounds of ammunition used was soon showing up in babies born with huge heads, abnormally large eyes, stunted arms, bloated stomachs and defective hearts. Later in the 1990s, Basra was hit as part of maintaining the American no fly zone on Saddam Hussein. It was attacked yet again in the 2003 American-British invasion and subsequent occupation.
Now we see that the children of Falluja and Basra are suffering a staggering rise in birth defects, primarily from the metals released by bombs, bullets and shells — the dust that gets into food, water, air, soil and crops.
A recent study by an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan attributes the defects to the presence of high levels of lead, mercury and other contaminants in the bodies of both parents and their afflicted children.
It substantiates what horrified doctors at Falluja General Hospital had been reporting since 2005. In September 2009, they had asked the United Nations to investigate why a quarter of the 170 babies born there that month had died within seven days and a staggering 75 per cent of the dead babies were deformed.
In 2010, the University of Ulster reported that increases in congenital birth defects, leukemia and infant mortality in Falluja were higher than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Read more here.