Wednesday, November 09, 2005

U.S. used chemical weapons in Fallujah siege

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In the jargon of American soldiers, it is called "Willy Pete." The technical name is white phosphorus. Its designated purpose, in theory, is to illuminate enemy positions in the dark. In practice, it has been used as a chemical weapon in the rebel city of Fallujah. And not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but also against un-armed civilians.

The American military is responsible for a massacre using unconventional weapons, the same charge for which Saddam Hussein stands accused. An investigation by RAI News 24, the all-news channel, has pulled the veil from one of the most carefully concealed secrets from the front in the entire US war in Iraq.

"I received the order, and I'm not supposed to tell you, but we used white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military slang it is called 'Willy Pete'. Phosphorus burns the human body on contact -- it even melts it right down to the bone."

This is what a US veteran of the Iraq war told RAI News 24 correspondent Sigfrido Ranucci. "I have seen the burned bodies of women and children," the former American soldier adds. "The phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone who finds himself with 150 meters is dead."

RAI News 24's investigative story, Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre, will be broadcast tomorrow on RAI-3. It will contain eyewitness accounts from US military personnel who fought in Iraq, and beyond that, accounts from Fallujah residents.

"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," Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji, a biologist from Fallujah.

"I had collected peoples' accounts of the use of phosphorus and napalm from some refugees from Fallujah, people I met before I was kidnapped," says Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for Manifesto who was kidnapped in Fallujah last February, in an interview for RAI News 24. "I had intended to report all this, but my kidnappers would not allow it."

RAI News 24's Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre will show an array of video and photographs in the Iraqi city during and after the strafings of November 2004. The report will prove, contrary to a December 9 statement from the US State Department, that the American army did not use phosphorus to illuminate enemy positions (which would have been legal), but instead dropped white phosphorus indiscriminate and in large quantities, on the city's residential neighborhoods.

In the investigative story, produced by Maurizio Torrealta, dramatic footage reveals the effects of this bombardment on the civilians, women and children of Fallujah, many of whom were sleeping when they were attacked.

The investigation will also broadcast documentary proof of the use in Iraq of an experimental new napalm formula named MK77. The use of such incendiary substances on civilians is forbidden by a 1980 UN treaty. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited by a treaty which the US signed in 1997.
Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre will be shown on RAI News 24 on November 8th at 07:35 (on the satellite Hot Bird, Sky Channel 506, and RAI Three), and rebroadcast by Hot Bird and Sky Channel 506 at 17:00, and over the next two days.
As originally published

US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah

by Peter Popham, The Independent [London, UK]

Nov. 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, rumors 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 meters is done for."

Photographs on the website of RAI TG24, the broadcaster's 24-hours news channel, show exactly what the former soldier means. Provided by the Studies Center of Human Rights in Fallujah, dozens of high-quality, color close- ups show bodies of Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whose clothes remain largely intact but whose skin has been dissolved or caramelized 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-colored 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.

As originally published

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