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Troops Find Suspected Poison Gas Shells in Iraq - 2004-01-11

Danish troops operating in southern Iraq have found dozens of old mortar shells that may contain poison liquid gas.

The troops found at least 36 mortar shells containing a liquid. Preliminary tests showed the substance may be the liquid form of a poison known as blister gas, but further chemical tests are being conducted.

Officials say troops found the shells, many of them leaking, on Friday. They say they were wrapped in plastic and buried in the desert north of the southern city of Basra.

Military officials say the shells have been in the ground for many years and are likely weapons left over from Iraq's war with Iran in the 1980s

The United States and Britain had cited the threat of illegal weapons of mass destruction, including a variety of chemical and biological weapons, as a main reason for launching the war against Iraq last year. But so far, no such weapons have been found.