Daily Kos: BBC: U.S. admits use of white phosphorus in Falluja

BBC: U.S. admits use of white phosphorus in Falluja
by Bob Johnson [Subscribe]
Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 06:22:15 PM CST

(If this has been diaried, let me know.)

There have been plenty of diaries written about the alleged use of white phosphorus by U.S. forces during the siege of Falluja last year.

The U.S. Army continued to deny that it had used WP as a weapon... until today.

The BBC reports:

The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops used white phosphorus during last year's offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Falluja.

"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.

The US earlier denied it had been used in Falluja at all.


* Bob Johnson's diary :: ::

Col Venable said a statement by the US state department that white phosphorus had not been used was based on "poor information".

The BBC's defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract its denial has been a public relations disaster for the US military.

So it was used against humans. Venable's claim is that it was only used against "enemy combatants." I'm sure he's absolutely certain of that...

Why did the Army feel the need to use WP?

"However it is an incendiary weapon and may be used against enemy combatants." (Venable)

And he said it had been used in Falluja, but it was "conventional munition", not a chemical weapon.

It is not "outlawed or illegal", Col Venable said.

"When you have enemy forces that are in covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an impact on and you wish to get them out of those positions, one technique is to fire a white phosphorus round or rounds into the position because the combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives," he said.

Now, if you were a civilian who, for whatever reason, couldn't or wouldn't leave Falluja in the face of the assault, what would you be doing once the battle had been joined? Hiding somewhere deep within your home?

The BBC goes on to note:

A spokesman at the UK Ministry of Defence said the use of white phosphorus was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area.

But Professor Paul Rodgers of the University of Bradford department of peace studies said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians.

He told PM: "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."

The story also noted this:

Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices.

I guess those crazy Italians (RAI) weren't making up tales after all...

Daily Kos: BBC: U.S. admits use of white phosphorus in Falluja


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