Buttressing charges Iraq has used illegal poison gas, a State Department official said Friday that U.S. diplomats in Turkey found Kurdish refugees suffering "blistering, oozing sores" and other signs of chemical attacks.

According to a Sept. 8 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the refugees also suffered "dizzy spells and periods of hallucination," eye irritation, trouble breathing and other symptoms commonly associated with the World War I scourge, mustard gas. Some who escaped across the border to Turkey died of lingering effects of the poison, it said.The cable is the first evidence presented by U.S. officials to support accusations Iraq is using chemical weapons in a campaign to crush Kurd separatists.

A State Department official, who read the cable to United Press International, quoted it as saying U.S. envoys who visited the refugees near the Turkish-Iraqi border "obtained confirmation of widespread use of chemical weapons by Iraqi forces against Kurds."