RAI Italian TV & The Independent & Democracy Now – 2005-11-09 09:31:03
US Forces ‘Used Chemical Weapons’ during Assault on City of Fallujah
Peter Popham / The Independent
LONDON (November 8, 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.”
Horrendous Photographic Evidence of US Atrocities
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.
US ‘Uses Incendiary Arms’ in Iraq
• Spontaneously flammable chemical used for battlefield illumination.
• Contact with particles causes burning of skin and flesh.
• Use of incendiary weapons prohibited for attacking civilians (Protocol III of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons).
• Protocol III not signed by US.
(November 8, 2005) — Italian state TV, Rai, has broadcast a documentary accusing the US military of using of phosphorus bombs against civilians in the Iraqi city of Falluja.
In the film, eyewitnesses and ex-US soldiers who served in Iraq said white phosphorus bombs were used in built-up areas in the insurgent-held city.
Rai says this amounts to the illegal use of chemical arms, though such bombs are considered incendiary devices.
The US military admits using the weapon in Iraq to illuminate battlefields.
But US military officials deny using it in built-up areas. Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices.
Transmission of the documentary comes a day after the arrival of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on a five-day official visit to Italy.
It also coincides with the first anniversary of the US-led assault on Falluja, which displaced most of the city’s 300,000 population and left many of its buildings destroyed.
The documentary was shown between 0730 and 0800 in the morning on Rai’s rolling news channel with a warning that the some of the footage would be disturbing.
The future of the 3,000-strong Italian peacekeeping contingent in Iraq is the subject of a political tug-of-war, says BBC correspondent David Willey.
The documentary began with formerly classified footage of the Americans using Napalm bombs during the Vietnam war.
It shows a series of photographs of corpses with the flesh burnt off but clothes still intact – which it says is consistent with effect of white phosphorus on humans.
The film also says Washington has systematically attempted to destroy filmed evidence of the alleged use of white phosphorus on civilians in Falluja.
Italian public opinion has been consistently against the war and the Rai documentary can only reinforce calls here for a pullout of Italian soldiers as soon as possible, our correspondent says.
Both the Italian government and opposition leaders are talking about a phased withdrawal in 2006.
President Talabani and the US say the continued presence of multi-national forces in Iraq is essential.
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US Broadcast Exclusive – “Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre” on the US Use of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs
Democracy Now! airs an exclusive excerpt of “Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre,” featuring interviews with US soldiers, Iraqi doctors and international journalists on the US attack on Fallujah.
Produced by Italian state broadcaster RAI TV, the documentary charges US warplanes illegally dropped white phosphorus incendiary bombs on civilian populations, burning the skin off Iraqi victims. One US soldier charges this amounts to the US using chemical weapons against the Iraqi people.