Wednesday, November 16, 2005

U.S. admits using phosphorus as weapon in Iraq

U.S. troops used white phosphorus as a weapon against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a spokesman for the U.S. military has admitted.

"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt. Col Barry Venable told the BBC.

U.S. officials had earlier insisted that the substance, which can burn flesh down to the bone, had been used only sparingly to provide smokescreens and illuminate battle scenes in Fallujah.

White phosphorus is highly flammable and ignites on contact with oxygen. If the substance hits someone's body, it will continue burning until deprived of oxygen.

A spokesman at the U.K. Ministry of Defence told the BBC that the use of white phosphorus was permitted in battle situations where there were no civilians near a target area.

However Professor Paul Rodgers, of the University of Bradford's department of peace studies, said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if it was deliberately aimed at civilians.

"It is not counted under the chemical weapons convention in its normal use but, although it is a matter of legal niceties, it probably does fall into the category of chemical weapons if it is used for this kind of purpose directly against people," he told the BBC.

Italian documentary makers covering the battle for Fallujah have claimed that an unknown number of Iraqi women and children died of phosphorus burns during the assault.

When the documentary revealing the use of white phosphorus in Iraq was broadcast in Italy on November 8 it sparked fury among Italian anti-war protesters, who demonstrated outside the U.S. embassy in Rome.

The U.S.-led offensive on Fallujah destroyed many of the city's buildings and displaced most of the population of 300,000.


Blogger Will said...

Iraqian Chemical Weapons...oh yeah..we knew it...

1:02 PM  

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