Chemical weapons were found by U.S. forces in Iraq, but the Pentagon kept the findings a secret, the New York Times reported Tuesday evening.

According to the Times, from 2004 to 2011 American troops repeatedly encountered chemical munitions in the Middle Eastern country. In at least six cases, coalition forces were even wounded by the weapons from the Saddam Hussein era, the Times reported.

Drawing upon interviews and intelligence documents, the Times concluded that U.S. forces reported finding approximately 5,000 chemical warheads in the war-torn country.

The American government, however, chose to not disclose the information to the public and even kept Congress only partly informed, according to the Times.

“’Nothing of significance’ is what I was ordered to say,” said Jarrod Lampier, a now-retired Army major who was present when forces found 2,400 nerve agent rockets in 2006 — the largest chemical weapons discovery of the war.

Another soldier, Jarrod L. Taylor, who witnessed the destruction of mustard shells, joked of “wounds that never happened” from “that stuff that didn’t exist,” the Times reported.

Five years after President George W. Bush sent troops into Iraq, these soldiers had entered an expansive but largely secret chapter of America’s long and bitter involvement in Iraq.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Keep reading @ New York Times

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