A new study of the Iraqi city of Fallujah shows dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia. Iraqi doctors have complained since 2005 that they have seen huge increases in birth defects in Fallujah.
A recent survey shows a four fold increase in all cancers and a 12 fold increase in cancer in children under 14. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times that in Jordan and 8 times that in Kuwait.
Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and one of the authors of the survey of 4,800 individuals in Fallujah, said it is difficult to pin down the exact cause of the cancers and birth defects. He added that "to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened".
U.S. marines beseiged and bombard the city in April 2004. The seige was a response to four employees of Blackwater being killed and their bodies burned. After an eight month standoff the city was stormed in November using artillery and aerial bombing of rebel positions. The U.S. later admitted using white phosphorous as well as other munitions.
In the assault US commanders largely treated Fallujah as a free-fire zone to try to reduce casualties among their own troops. British officers were appalled by the lack of concern for civilian casualties. "During preparatory operations in the November 2004 Fallujah clearance operation, on one night over 40 155mm artillery rounds were fired into a small sector of the city," recalled Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, a British commander serving with the American forces in Baghdad.
The commander thought that the U.S. was using a new weapon to break down walls and kill those inside. I just wonder if those shells did not contain considerable depleted uranium (DU).
A Baghdad television station reported that the researchers were terrorists and that residents should not answer their questions. However researchers were able to recruit locals to go with them and counteract this fear mongering.
The study, entitled "Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009", is by Dr Busby, Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi, and concludes that anecdotal evidence of a sharp rise in cancer and congenital birth defects is correct. Infant mortality was found to be 80 per 1,000 births compared to 19 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan and 9.7 in Kuwait. The report says that the types of cancer are "similar to that in the Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to ionising radiation from the bomb and uranium in the fallout".
Researchers found a 38-fold increase in leukaemia, a ten-fold increase in female breast cancer and significant increases in lymphoma and brain tumours in adults. At Hiroshima survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukaemia, but in Fallujah Dr Busby says what is striking is not only the greater prevalence of cancer but the speed with which it was affecting people.
Later the US cut back on its use of firepower in Iraq after 2007 because of the backlash it was creating among the populace.