Britain probes chemical attack claims

Claims that Britain used illegal chemical weapons that are reportedly linked to an upswing of child deformity cases in Iraq are being investigated by the British Ministry of Defense, sources have said.

Iraqi families, who claim their children's deformities are caused by the deployment of the weapons in Fallujah in the October 2004, have taken legal action against the U.K. They accuse the U.K. of breaching international law, war crimes and failing to intervene to prevent a war crime.

Lawyers for the Iraqis have sent a letter before action to the Ministry of Defense asking government officials to disclose what they know about the army's role in the offensive, specifically whether British soldiers were involved in the fighting or supplied or helped fire prohibited weapons.

The Iraqi attorneys also call into question the legal advice given to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is alleged that former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith warned Blair about the legal dangers of committing British forces to the attack.

The case now questions the U.K.'s role in the U.S.-led offensive against Fallujah. It is alleged that illegal weaponry was used that included white phosphorus, a modern form of napalm, and depleted uranium. The Iraqis claim evidence has emerged of large numbers of children being born with severe birth defects.

Legal actions against America are blocked by U.S. federal immunity laws.