Campaigners hail 'nerve gas link' to Gulf War Syndrome

BRITISH pressure groups today welcomed a United States report that links "Gulf War Syndrome" to exposure to toxins, including nerve gas.

The report, released by the Veterans’ Affairs department in Washington, said that psychiatric illness or post-traumatic stress "do not explain Gulf War veterans’ illnesses in the large majority of ill veterans". Despite the findings, there was a guarded response from a lawyer for the UK veterans, who said that although the report added weight, it was "not sufficient" to get the condition accepted.

The Ministry of Defence has steadfastly insisted there is not enough evidence to support Gulf War Syndrome.

Tony Flint, regional co-ordinator for the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association in Britain, welcomed the report.

"We have known for years that Gulf War Syndrome does exist, and why the MoD has been so bloody-minded in not accepting it I do not know," he said.

"The NHS has medically retired staff and given them a diagnosis of Gulf War Syndrome, the Church of England has accepted it and so have numerous other organisations. It only seems to be the Government and the MoD who have not accepted it."

The MoD defended its position last night and said it was already aware of most of the material in the report.

A spokesman said: "We are confident that our approach is well focused and deals appropriately with this sensitive issue.

"The findings and the recommendations are of interest, but we note, however, that the report does not take into account the recent paper by the United States Institute of Medicine, which states that there is inadequate and insufficient evidence to determine whether an association exists between low level exposure to sarin and long-term adverse neurological effects."