NEAR NAJAF, Iraq (AFP)—A facility near Baghdad that a US officer had said might finally be "smoking gun" evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons production turned out to contain pesticide, not sarin gas as feared.
A military intelligence officer for the US 101st Airborne Division's aviation brigade, Captain Adam Mastrianni, told AFP that comprehensive tests determined the presence of the pesticide compounds.
Initial tests had reportedly detected traces of sarin—a powerful toxin that quickly affects the nervous system—after US soldiers guarding the facility near Hindiyah, 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad, fell ill.
Mastrianni said: "They thought it was a nerve agent. That's what it tested. But it is pesticide."
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