Fallujah Revisited

skunk

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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article325560.ece
US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah
By Peter Popham
Published: 08 November 2005
Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.

On 10 November last year, the Islam Online website wrote: "US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988."

The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: "The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons."

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used 'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfo website said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.

"They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

But now new information has surfaced, including hideous photographs and videos and interviews with American soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorus shells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."

Photographs on the website of RaiTG24, the broadcaster's 24-hours news channel, www.rainews24.it, show exactly what the former soldier means. Provided by the Studies Centre of Human Rights in Fallujah, dozens of high-quality, colour close-ups show bodies of Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whose clothes remain largely intact but whose skin has been dissolved or caramelised or turned the consistency of leather by the shells.

A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewed for the film, says: "A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

The documentary, entitled Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, also provides what it claims is clinching evidence that incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, a new, improved form of napalm, was used in the attack on Fallujah, in breach of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980, which only allows its use against military targets.

Meanwhile, five US soldiers from the elite 75th Ranger Regiment have been charged with kicking and punching detainees in Iraq.

The news came as a suicide car bomber killed four American soldiers at a checkpoint south of Baghdad yesterday.​
I suppose Cheney is going to insist that the US be allowed to do this too. Is it not exquisite irony that this comes out at the very time Saddam Hussein is being tried for using chemical weapons on Halabja? He is facing a death sentence: what sentence should we recommend for George Bush?
 

leekohler

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Dec 22, 2004
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skunk said:
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article325560.ece
[/indent]I suppose Cheney is going to insist that the US be allowed to do this too. Is it not exquisite irony that this comes out at the very time Saddam Hussein is being tried for using chemical weapons on Halabja? He is facing a death sentence: what sentence should we recommend for George Bush?
Bush? Life in prison among the general population.
 

miloblithe

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Nov 14, 2003
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I'm skeptical, largely because of this sentence right at the beginning,

"Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city."

That assault was WIDELY reported by Western journalists, including every major US media outlet. Arguably, this is simply a sloppy, mis-stated sentence, but...
 

tristan

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Jul 19, 2003
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The article says that new evidence is emerging, but doesn't really say the evidence. But it's a very serious allegation, I'd like to see it investigated thoroughly and either proven or debunked. I hope its not true but if it is, people should be stripped of rank and imprisoned.
 

solvs

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Jun 25, 2002
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Yet another sign of our impending doom. "And fire rained down from the sky on the holy city". Apocalypse, here we come.

Y'all think I'm kidding.
 

mactastic

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skunk said:
what sentence should we recommend for George Bush?
A Medal of Freedom? :p

They're gonna need a little more proof than some photos to make this stick. An autopsy or two would have been nice.
 

skunk

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mactastic said:
A Medal of Freedom? :p

They're gonna need a little more proof than some photos to make this stick. An autopsy or two would have been nice.
I downloaded the video from the Italian site: there are pictures of helicopters repeatedly spraying large areas of what is presumably Fallujah with hundreds of burning flares. If this is footage of what happened, the people underneath it would have had no chance whatever. It certainly looks appalling. You'll have to d/l it yourselves, as it's 1.5MB (WMV).
 

mactastic

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skunk said:
I downloaded the video from the Italian site: there are pictures of helicopters repeatedly spraying large areas of what is presumably Fallujah with hundreds of burning flares. If this is footage of what happened, the people underneath it would have had no chance whatever. It certainly looks appalling. You'll have to d/l it yourselves, as it's 1.5MB (WMV).
Ah that's beyond my dial-up ability at the moment. I'll have to take your word for it. It's not that I don't believe it, but I'm still leery of jumping on these things as fact this early. I'm sure it's likely, but definite?
 

skunk

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mactastic said:
Ah that's beyond my dial-up ability at the moment. I'll have to take your word for it. It's not that I don't believe it, but I'm still leery of jumping on these things as fact this early. I'm sure it's likely, but definite?
Just for a contemporary account:January 18, 2005
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog/archives/000173.php
Odd Happenings in Fallujah

“The soldiers are doing strange things in Fallujah,” said one of my contacts in Fallujah who just returned. He was in his city checking on his home and just returned to Baghdad this evening.

Speaking on condition of anonymity he continued, “In the center of the Julan Quarter they are removing entire homes which have been bombed, meanwhile most of the homes that were bombed are left as they were. Why are they doing this?”

According to him, this was also done in the Nazal, Mualmeen, Jubail and Shuhada’a districts, and the military began to do this after Eid, which was after November 20th.

He told me he has watched the military use bulldozers to push the soil into piles and load it onto trucks to carry away. This was done in the Julan and Jimouriya quarters of the city, which is of course where the heaviest fighting occurred during the siege, as this was where resistance was the fiercest.

“At least two kilometers of soil were removed,” he explained, “Exactly as they did at Baghdad Airport after the heavy battles there during the invasion and the Americans used their special weapons.”

He explained that in certain areas where the military used “special munitions” 200 square meters of soil was being removed from each blast site.

In addition, many of his friends have told him that the military brought in water tanker trucks to power blast the streets, although he hadn’t seen this himself.

“They went around to every house and have shot the water tanks,” he continued, “As if they are trying to hide the evidence of chemical weapons in the water, but they only did this in some areas, such as Julan and in the souk (market) there as well.”

He first saw this having been done after December 20th.

Again, this is reflective of stories I’ve been told by several refugees from Fallujah.

Just last December, a 35 year-old merchant from Fallujah, Abu Hammad, told me what he’d experienced when he was still in the city during the siege.

“The American warplanes came continuously through the night and bombed everywhere in Fallujah! It did not stop even for a moment! If the American forces did not find a target to bomb, they used sound bombs just to terrorize the people and children. The city stayed in fear; I cannot give a picture of how panicked everyone was.”

“In the mornings I found Fallujah empty, as if nobody lives in it,” he’d said, “Even poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah-they used everything-tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground. Nothing is left.”

In Amiriyat al-Fallujah, a small city just outside Fallujah where many doctors from Fallujah have been practicing since they were unable to do so at Fallujah General Hospital, similar stories are being told.

Last month one refugee who had just arrived at the hospital in the small city explained that he’d watched the military bring in water tanker trucks to power blast some of the streets in Fallujah.

“Why are they doing this,” explained Ahmed (name changed for his protection), “To beautify Fallujah? No! They are covering their tracks from the horrible weapons they used in my city.”

Also last November, another Fallujah refugee from the Julan area, Abu Sabah told me, “They (US military) used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud. Then small pieces feel from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.”

He explained that pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt peoples skin even when water was dumped on their bodies, which is the effect of phosphorous weapons, as well as napalm. “People suffered so much from these, both civilians and fighters alike,” he said.

My friend Suthir (name changed to protect identity) was a member of one of the Iraqi Red Crescent relief convoys that was allowed into Fallujah at the end of November.

“I’m sure the Americans committed bad things there, but who can discover and say this,” she said when speaking of what she saw of the devastated city, “They didn’t allow us to go to the Julan area or any of the others where there was heavy fighting, and I’m sure that is where the horrible things took place.”

“The Americans didn’t let us in the places where everyone said there was napalm used,” she added, “Julan and those places where the heaviest fighting was, nobody is allowed to go there.”

On 30 November the US military prevented an aid convoy from reaching Fallujah. This aid convoy was sent by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, but was told by soldiers at a checkpoint to return in “8 or 9 days,” reported AP.

Dr. Ibrahim al-Kubaisi who was with the relief team told reporters at that time, “There is a terrible crime going in Fallujah and they do not want anybody to know.”

With the military maintaining strict control over who enters Fallujah, the truth of what weapons were used remains difficult to find.

Meanwhile, people who lived in different districts of Fallujah continue to tell the same stories.​
Anecdotal evidence, I know, but the video also has pictures of skeletons inside undamaged clothing, for what it's worth. If this did happen, they won't be able to keep a lid on it indefinitely.

And, as for the official US denial:
Finally, some news accounts have claimed that U.S. forces have used "outlawed" phosphorus shells in Fallujah. Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. U.S. forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.

There is a great deal of misinformation feeding on itself about U.S. forces allegedly using "outlawed" weapons in Fallujah. The facts are that U.S. forces are not using any illegal weapons in Fallujah or anywhere else in Iraq.
http://usinfo.state.gov/media/Archive_Index/Illegal_Weapons_in_Fallujah.html
Which fills one with renewed confidence.
 

mactastic

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****

"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] 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 when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."
-- Field Artillery Magazine
Apparently that quote is to be found somewhere in this PDF.

****ing melting the skin off children. Nice little bit of PR we've got going there for us. :(
 

zimv20

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from this 10 Nov 2004 Wash Post article:

Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous 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 phosphorous burns.

Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujaheddin which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted."
 

toontra

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The US ambassador to the UK was just interviewed on Radio 4 (BBC) and has admitted that white phosphorous was used in the Fallujah siege (no mention was made of whether it has been used before and since). He said he didn't know why the Whitehouse had previously issued a denial on their website.

He said it was the US military policy that white phosphorous could be used as an incendiary, or smoke-screen, device AGAINST enemy combatants, and said that it wasn't BY NAME mentioned in any treaty banning chemical weapons, although conceded that its use could be seen as contrary to the spirit of such treaties.

Unbelievable - and to think it was the US who claimed to be freeing Iraq of chemical & "nucular" weapons!
 

IJ Reilly

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toontra said:
The US ambassador to the UK was just interviewed on Radio 4 (BBC) and has admitted that white phosphorous was used in the Fallujah siege (no mention was made of whether it has been used before and since). He said he didn't know why the Whitehouse had previously issued a denial on their website.

He said it was the US military policy that white phosphorous could be used as an incendiary, or smoke-screen, device AGAINST enemy combatants, and said that it wasn't BY NAME mentioned in any treaty banning chemical weapons, although conceded that its use could be seen as contrary to the spirit of such treaties.

Unbelievable - and to think it was the US who claimed to be freeing Iraq of chemical & "nucular" weapons!
I happened to be listening to Radio 4 this morning and heard this interview. Apart from whether the ambassador is right about the legality of the use of phosphorous, I found myself wondering whether this story will make the U.S. news media at all.
 

zimv20

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the BBC is now carrying the story here:

US used white phosphorus in Iraq

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.

Col Venable denied that the substance - which can cause burning of the flesh - constituted a banned chemical weapon.

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

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.

'Incendiary'

The US-led assault on Falluja - a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency west of Baghdad - displaced most of the city's 300,000 population and left many of its buildings destroyed.


Col Venable told the BBC's PM radio programme that the US army used white phosphorus incendiary munitions "primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases".

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

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.

'Particularly nasty'

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

Globalsecurity.org, a defence website, says: "Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful... These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears... it could burn right down to the bone."

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."

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

leekohler

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This is absolutely DISGUSTING. I've never been so ashamed to be American. Of course, there is no talk in our media about this. I'm feeling nauseous. What in the hell? What else can he possibly lie about before this president is impeached?
 

wordmunger

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leekohler said:
This is absolutely DISGUSTING. I've never been so ashamed to be American. Of course, there is no talk in our media about this. I'm feeling nauseous. What in the hell? What else can he possibly lie about before this president is impeached?
I have to say that at this point, nothing surprises me. This seems like a horrible weapon, but isn't it also horrible to bleed to death from a gunshot wound?

I was already ashamed about the US actions in Iraq. This makes me incrementally more ashamed. But I do hope that maybe it will serve as a sort of tipping point and push a bunch more people over the edge in removing their support for the war.
 

Kernow

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Sep 30, 2005
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And now the British Government have admitted to using white phosphorous, although only as "smoke screens and illumination". See the BBC News site here.

The most incisive comment comes from Menzies Campbell:

The use of this weapon may technically have been legal, but its effects are such that it will hand a propaganda victory to the insurgency
 

leekohler

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Dec 22, 2004
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wordmunger said:
I have to say that at this point, nothing surprises me. This seems like a horrible weapon, but isn't it also horrible to bleed to death from a gunshot wound?
If I had to choose- I'd take a gunshot wound any day.