UN team in Iraq to check 'poison' bombs

BAGHDAD - United Nations experts arrived in Iraq yesterday to investigate allegations that President Saddam Hussein's troops used chemical weapons against Shia Muslim civilians, but Baghdad suggested the visit was a ploy to keep post-Gulf war sanctions in operation, Reuter reports. The UN team's Australian leader, Roger Hill, arrived after examining alleged victims among Iraqi refugees in Iran. He said he would conduct a detailed scientific analysis in Iraq's southern marshes, home of the Marsh Arabs for 5,000 years.

Tens of thousands of Shias took refuge in the marshes in early 1991 after the Iraqi army crushed their revolt against President Saddam after the Gulf war. Exile groups and refugees in Iran say Iraq used chemical weapons there in September and October. Baghdad denies the charge.