MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — The Pentagon has acknowledged that more than 600 US military personnel reported being exposed to chemical agents while on duty in Iraq, The New York Times reported Thursday.
In October, the newspaper reported 17 cases of US military personnel being injured by chemical agents. After the publication, another eight service members came forward claiming the same, bringing the total number to 25.
A review of military records ordered by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel following The New York Times' revelations showed that 629 US troops had reported being exposed to chemical agents, the newspaper said, citing a spokesperson for the US Army's surgeon general.
According to the spokesperson, these service members had reportedly replied "yes" to the question "do you think you were exposed to any chemical, biological and radiological warfare agents during this deployment?" in standardized medical surveys following their deployment in Iraq.
The spokesperson added that "those who answered the questionnaire would have received medical consultations at the end of their combat tours."
It is not clear why over the course of a decade the US military failed to take further steps, such as compiling data, issuing warnings and tracking veterans with related medical complains, the newspaper said.
On October 30, The New York Times reported that according to the US Army and Navy, the US Department of Defense is to offer medical examinations and continuous health monitoring to troops exposed to chemical agents in Iraq. The affected troops and veterans are expected to be examined from 2015, the newspaper stated.
The Iraq War, also known as the Second Gulf War, began in March 2003 as an effort to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein who was accused of having ties to terrorist organizations and possessing weapons of mass destruction, claims that were later disproved. The United States led a coalition of countries into battle against Iraqi military and paramilitary forces and formally ended the conflict in 2011, leaving Iraqis responsible for maintaining security in their own country.