WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a bid by U.S. troops sickened by smoke from open-air pits used to burn waste in Iraq and Afghanistan to revive a lawsuit against defense contractors KBR Inc and Halliburton Co.

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Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus urged Congress in an interview with Fox News on Monday to make good on its "sacred obligation" to support the growing number of veterans sickened by exposure to burn pits at U.S military bases abroad.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo

It was known as “Operation Ranch Hand” while the Vietnam War simmered, then boiled. From the skies and the roadways, the U.S. military sprayed almost 19 million gallons of herbicide over a period of nine years to clear away jungle. Eleven million gallons of that was a chemical called “Agent Orange.’’

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Jared Keller

Editor’s Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

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U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Anthony L. Ortiz

A recent court decision by an administrative law judge for the Department of Labor found burn-pit exposure was linked to lung disease in a federal contractor’s case, Fox News reported on Thursday.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo

Hundreds of veterans and their families who have spent eight years in federal court trying to prove that burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan made U.S. troops sick are worried they’ll hit a legal dead end if a Maryland judge decides the company that ran the smoke-belching disposal sites can’t be sued because it was working on behalf of the government.

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