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Panel Rules On Gulf War Syndrome

A blue-ribbon panel appointed by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine said Wednesday there is no evidence that chemical or biological weapons were used in the Persian Gulf War, and that rumors that they were should be put to rest.

The committee was briefed on operations in the Gulf War and reviewed classified military documents concerning chemical warfare, its members wrote in a report released Wednesday. One member had a classified briefing on Iraqi chemical-warfare capabilities and plans.

The group, comprised mostly of physicians, epidemiologists and environmental health specialists, said it “could find absolutely no reliable intelligence, and no medical or biological justification” for any of the many claims that poison gas had been used against coalition forces during the Gulf War.

Cases of the chronic, poorly defined illness known popularly as Gulf-War syndrome “are not the result of chemical, biological, or toxin warfare, or accidental exposures to stored weapons or research material,” the committee concluded. Such claims “should not be made or given credence in the absence of reliable data to the contrary,” the committee concluded.

The Senate Banking Committee investigated reports of gas exposure and released a report last year suggesting they were probably credible. Military authorities have consistently said there was no gas used by either Iraqi or coalition forces.