This investigation has been unable to obtain definitive evidence to confirm or refute that Iraq used blister or any other kind of chemical warfare agents to suppress the post-war Shiia rebellion in southern Iraq or whether US forces were exposed to these agents as a result. Additionally, it is doubtful continued investigation would produce findings more accurate or verifiable than those found thus far. This investigation makes these key findings:

A.  Refugees' accounts

We have been unable to obtain definitive evidence to verify refugee descriptions of government attacks using blister agents, napalm, white phosphorus, or acids. Conventional weapons can cause injuries that resemble the blisters caused by blister agents. The refugees had no means to positively identify the weapons as chemical. Language barriers and the refugees’ lack of understanding of what constitutes a chemical weapon also inhibited our ability to come to a positive conclusion.

B.  US Forces' accounts

US forces received many reports—from refugees and other sources—that indicated Iraq may have been planning to use chemical weapons, or had indeed used these weapons. However, US forces lacked the ability to corroborate these reports. US forces had no access to any of the cities where the attacks took place. Only one of these cities—An Nasiriyah—was close to US forces near the demarcation line. Soldiers described injuries to Iraqis that may have been caused by chemical warfare agents, but such injuries are difficult to distinguish from those caused by other means, including white phosphorous and acids, both of which Iraq is either known or suspected to have used. Furthermore, the possibility for these injuries to have been caused by chemical warfare agents is not corroborated by accounts of medical or NBC personnel who were also in that area.

C.  Medical

Front-line doctors stated they did not see or treat any US or Iraqi casualties believed to be exposed to chemical warfare agents, nor were they aware of the occurrence of such injuries. However, even doctors well-trained in diagnosing chemical warfare agent injuries emphasized the difficulty in assessing the cause of such injuries based on visual observation alone.


The NBC experts stated they know of no confirmed or even possible detection of chemical warfare agents in their area of operations. This is most notably the case for the 82nd Airborne Division NBC officer. It was in the 82nd Airborne Division sector that soldiers witnessed Iraq’s attacks against civilians in An Nasiriyah. The absence of chemical warfare agent detection by US units raises doubts these agents were used in nearby areas under Iraqi attack. However, it does not eliminate the possibility that Iraq used chemical warfare agents in these areas because US forces were not able to enter these areas to employ detection systems that could confirm or deny the presence of these agents.

E.  US Intelligence Agencies

Both the CIA and the DIA concluded independently that Iraqi post-war use of chemical warfare agents against civilians was unlikely.

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