Pictures and videos have been posted by the Pentagon online showing that US forces in Iraq have used white phosphorus munitions, a chemical weapon that burns deep into human tissue while suffocating the victims.
White phosphorus can cause injuries and death in three ways: by burning deep into tissue, by being inhaled as a smoke, and by being ingested. Extensive exposure by burning and ingestion may result in death. Phosphorus burns carry a greater risk of mortality than other forms of burns due to the absorption of phosphorus into the body through the burned area, resulting in liver, heart and kidney damage, and in some cases multiple organ failure. [source]
Press TV reports:
Based on images posted on Pentagon-managed public affairs website,DVIDS, The Washington Post reported on Friday that a US Army artillery unit was using the controversial chemical weapon in Iraq.
The weapon, which was identified by the Post as M825A1 155mm rounds, are generally used to make smoke screens or signals for advancing troops.
But when used in civilian-populated areas, the munitions can cause horrific injuries that can even be dangerous for medics treating the wounds, according to the report.
When asked if the forces had used the munitions for anything other than screening, obscuring or marking, John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US-led coalition in Iraq, refused to explain, the report said.
Dorrian said white phosphorus munitions had been “used generally for the circumstances which I described,” but did not say if they had been used in the town, with or without the presence of civilians.
RT News cover the story in the following video, please be warned, some viewers may find the footage disturbing:
The US had formerly used the chemical munitions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a specific incident which occurred in 2009 in Afghanistan, an 8-year-old girl burned to death with the munitions in Kapisa province.
Eight-year-old Razia was brought to U.S. military hospital at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan 2009, after being severely burned. The 8-year-old’s skin was smoking from white phosphorus.
When Razia was taken to the Air Base, the US military doctors watched in horror as the oxygen mask on the young Afghan girl’s face started to melt, Captain Autumn Richards explained.
Razia’s father Aziz is convinced international forces fired the round that destroyed his home. French troops in green armoured personnel carriers, U.S. troops in tan Humvees and Afghan soldiers gathered nearby before the attack, Aziz, Raiz’s father said. Two US officials told The Associated Press that the battle was primarily a French operation.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release the nationality of the force involved. Razia has discharged and moved to her home in , Tagab district, Kapisa province, Afghanistan. Razia needs help in many ways, but the best for her future would be a chance to live in a developed country where her need could be better met than Afghanistan. The primary target country should be France, as reports suggest she was injured in an attack led by French troops.
White phosphorus munitions, while not specifically banned by international law, are restricted from use in indiscriminate attacks against civilians by the 1983 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. White phosphorus ignites on contact with oxygen and causes deep skin burns.
The United States previously admitted to using white phosphorus during the Iraq war in 2004, but denied the weapons were used against civilians. The munitions have also been used by NATO in Afghanistan. [Source]
The US have also come under scrutiny over their sales of White Phosphorus munitions to Saudi Arabia, which then have been used in Yemen, Mintpress News reports:
Amid new evidence that Saudi Arabia has begun to use white phosphorus munitions in their war in Yemen, US officials are admitting that the weapons were provided by the United States “in the past.” They declined to say when, or how many weapons were provided.
The US has faced growing pressure in recent months over arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as their airstrikes in Yemen have caused massive numbers of civilian casualties. US officials have tried to downplay the matter, so far, but every new disastrous airstrike adds to the calls from international human rights groups for the US to stop abetting the kingdom’s war crimes.
The US also supplied White Phosphorus to Israel, who used the weapon on Gaza:
Israel denied using WP at first, but admitted to using it in Gaza under media pressure. It said the WP was used as an obscurant and illuminant, but even this type of use is banned in civilian areas under the Geneva Convention. According to Sputnik News, in 2009 the U.S. State Department confirmed that WP weapons from its Arkansas plant were sent to Israel for use in the Gaza invasion. [source]
It’s also worth mentioning where the White Phosphorus is being sourced, none other than Monsanto. The agricultural biotech giant who has recently been brought by Bayer have a history of providing death giving products to the World, beginning with Agent Orange chemical which was used in Vietnam to murder thousands, while leaving a long trail of birth defects and illness to the survivors:
“The Government is aware of only one source, Monsanto, who currently manufactures WP in the US. WP requires specialized technology, skills and processes in its production. These technologies and skills must be protected within the NTIB [National Technology and Industrial Base, a term for the “persons and organizations that are engaged in research, development, production, integration, services, or information technology activities conducted within the United States and Canada”] in the event of a national emergency. […] Maintaining these skills within the NTIB is essential if the capability to produce WP is to be preserved. Without this restriction to the NTIB, there is a risk the domestic capacity to manufacture WP could be lost […] With only one known producer of WP in the NTIB (Monsanto), the Government’s support of this domestic capability is critically important as it reduces the risk to the war fighter in times of national emergency as well as avoiding a potentially dangerous dependency upon a foreign source.” [Source]
History of White Phosphorus usage
It’s worth bearing in mind that the following list is only confirmed, known cases of this weapon being used. Few Governments will admit usage unless they get caught out or have no other option but to admit their intention of usage.
White phosphorus was used by Saddam Hussein during the Halabja poison gas attack. According to an undated ANSA article quoted by an RAI documentary, on the morning of March 16, 1988, the Iraqi Air Force bombed Halabja several times with a chemical cocktail of yperite, tabun, VX, napalm and white phosphorus.” White phosphorus had not been previously mentioned in other reports on Halabja, but the use of napalm was commonly reported.
In April 2004, during the First Battle of Fallujah, Darrin Mortenson of California’s North County Times reported that white phosphorus was used as an incendiary weapon. Embedded with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Mortenson described a Marine mortar team using a mixture of white phosphorus and high explosives to shell a cluster of buildings where insurgents had been spotted throughout the week.
In November 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Washington Post reporters embedded with Task Force 2-2, Regimental Combat Team 7, wrote on November 9, 2004 that “Some artillery guns fired white phosphorus (WP) rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water.” Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorus burns.
On November 9, 2005 the Italian state-run broadcaster Radiotelevisione Italiana S.p.A. aired a documentary titled “Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre”, alleging that the United States used white phosphorus as a weapon in Fallujah causing insurgents and civilians to be killed or injured by chemical burns. The filmmakers further claimed that the United States used incendiary MK-77 bombs in violation of Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, quoted in the documentary, white phosphorus is permitted for use as an illumination device and as a weapon with regard to heat energy, but not permitted as an offensive weapon with regard to its toxic chemical properties. The documentary also included footage which purported to be of white phosphorus being fired from helicopters over Fallujah. It also quoted journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had been in Fallujah, as a testimony.
On November 15, 2005, U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable confirmed to the BBC that white phosphorus had been used as an incendiary antipersonnel weapon in Fallujah. Venable stated “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 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.”
On November 16, 2005, BBC News reported that an article published in the March–April 2005 issue of Field Artillery, a U.S. Army magazine, noted that white phosphorus had been used during the battle. According to the article written by a captain, a first lieutenant, and a sergeant, “WP [White Phosphorus] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE [High Explosives]. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.”BBC News noted that the article had been discovered by bloggers after the US ambassador in London, Robert Holmes Tuttle, stated that US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons.
On November 22, 2005, the Iraqi government stated it would investigate the use of white phosphorus in the battle of Fallujah. On November 30, 2005, General Peter Pace stated that white phosphorus munitions were a “legitimate tool of the military” used to illuminate targets and create smokescreens, saying “It is not a chemical weapon. It is an incendiary. And it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they’re being used, for marking and for screening”.
Israel–Lebanon conflict (2006)
During the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict, Israel admitted that it had used phosphorus shells “against military targets in open ground” in south Lebanon. Israel clarified that its use of the white phosphorus bombs was permitted under international conventions. President of Lebanon Émile Lahoud claimed that phosphorus shells were used against civilians in Lebanon. The first Lebanese official complaint about the use of phosphorus came from Information Minister Ghazi Aridi.
Gaza War (2008–2009)
In its early statements the Israeli military repeatedly denied using white phosphorus, saying “We categorically deny the use of white phosphorus”, and “The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus.” It eventually admitted its use and stopped using the shells, however, saying that a “media buzz” led to its decision to do so.
Numerous reports from human right groups during the war indicated that white phosphorus shells were being used by Israel in populated areas.
Human Rights Watch said shells exploded over populated civilian areas, including a crowded Palestinian refugee camp and a United Nations school where civilians were seeking refuge. Additionally, Human Rights Watch said that white phosphorus injuries were suspected in the cases of ten burn victims. The International Red Cross stated that phosphorus weapons had been used in the conflict but would not comment publicly on the legality of Israel’s use of the weapon, pending further investigation, contrary to what had been attributed to the ICRC in a number of media reports.
Human Rights Watch said its experts in the region had witnessed the use of white phosphorus. Kenneth Roth, the organisation’s executive director, added: “This is a chemical compound that burns structures and burns people. It should not be used in populated areas.”
Amnesty International said a fact-finding team found “indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus” in crowded civilian residential areas of Gaza City and elsewhere in the territory.Donatella Rovera, the head of an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, said: “Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the United States to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.”
On 5 January the Times reported that telltale smoke associated with white phosphorus had been seen in areas of a shelling. On 12 January it was reported that more than 50 phosphorus burns victims were in Nasser Hospital. On 16 January the UNRWA headquarters was hit with phosphorus munitions. As a result of the hit, the compound was set ablaze.
Many other observers, including Human Rights Watch military experts, reported seeing white phosphorus air bursts over Gaza City and the Jabalya refugee camp. The BBC published a photograph of two shells exploding over a densely populated area on 11 January.
There are confirmed cases of white phosphorus burns on bodies of civilians wounded in Afghanistan US-Taliban clashes near Bagram. The United States has accused Taliban militants of using white phosphorus weapons illegally on at least 44 occasions. In May 2009, Colonel Gregory Julian, a spokesman for General David McKiernan, the overall commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, confirmed that Western military forces in Afghanistan use white phosphorus in order to illuminate targets or as an incendiary to destroy bunkers and enemy equipment. The Afghan government later launched an investigation into the use of white phosphorus munitions.
Use in Yemen (2009)
Houthi fighters in Yemen claimed Saudi warplanes dropped phosphorus bombs on villages in north Yemen in November 2009. The Saudi government denied military use of phosphorus munitions against the rebels, saying they were flares, not phosphorus.
Allegations of use in Ukraine (2014)
There have been multiple claims from Russian media about Ukraine using white phosphorus against rebels and civilians in the War in Donbass. According to Human Rights Watch, some of the videos presented as evidence were misrepresented copies of footage from Fallujah in 2004 and others offered did not depict white phosphorus, according to their arms researchers. Human Rights Watch also noted that this was not “the first time that Russian state media has manufactured montages about eastern Ukraine, twisted the truth, or outright misstated facts.”
Armenian–Azerbaijani clashes (2016)
After the 2016 Armenian–Azerbaijani clashes Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that on 10 May of that year the Armenian military had fired 122-mm calibre white phosphorus munitions against Azerbaijani territory.
History Source: Wikipedia