Pentagon confirms using white phosphorous in Iraq - Page 2

November 16th, 2005  
Italian Guy
I repost my contribution here (from

This one goes to show what I was saying before about our Prime Minister controlling the media.
RaiNews is our public television channel, "allegedly" controlled by Berlusconi, Bush's friend.
As you can also see from this case, RaiNews is indeed a left-wing television.
This stories about napalm being used on Falluja in 2004 is actually old stuff that they recycled.
As usual it is a lie: White phosphorous flares has been used for decades to also illuminate the enemy positions at night:

"Italian TV has an upcoming scoop on another American chemical super-weapon-- injecting toxic lead capsules into the bodies of enemies through a secret technology codenamed "guns."

Here are some to-the-point comments I'm sure you'll be interested in reading:

"Actually, WP is used as a marking round, not an illuminating round. It is against the Geneva Convention to use it against personnel. It can, however, be used against trucks, cars, backpacks, shoes, weapons, and hats".

"But the story reminds me of one about some (Fallujan?) insurgents who wired a school or something with chemical weapons so that when U.S. troops came it, it would detonate and appear that Americans were usng chemicals against non-combatants.
So in addition to questioning whether the eye-witnesses were telling the truth at all about burned bodies, it is also worth noting that even if bodies were burned by chemicals, that says nothing about who burned them.
And for any doubters out there, do you really think the terrorists are above burning the bodies of Iraqi civillians to make American troops look bad? And does anyone here think Italian television is interested in the answer to that question?"

"Actually, WP is used as a marking round, not an illuminating round. It is against the Geneva Convention to use it against personnel.
As I understand it, the only weapons that are against the GC are WMD. Any other weapon is essentially free for use, so long as the target is legitimate. If you shoot an anti-tank rocket at a single enemy combatant standing in the middle of the field, you didn't violate the laws of war, just engaged in massive overkill. (More likely you missed and wasted a rocket.) What the Italian story is doing is playing the invent-a-war-crime game. They make up the laws of war, distort their meaning, or distort the context of US orders/regulations, and then make accusations against the US.
A famous example is John Kerry's claim that "free-fire zones" were war crimes -- a claim that glosses over the fact that the zones were "free-fire" only if you had a combatant target; US soldiers were still forbidden to fire on non-combatants.
In this case, the Italian paper is (correctly) citing the GC ban on chemical weapons, but then (incorrectly) claiming that any weapon that involves a chemical is a chemical weapon. WP and napalm *ARE* chemicals, but so are water, gasoline, and gunpowder. The GC ban is on contact and inhaled agents -- gases -- not incendiaries. They're counting on people not looking closer at either the GC".

What I, Italian Guy, know about it is what follows:

1. MK77 is not technically napalm, although it is a very similar incendiary substance b) use of NAPALM AGAINST CIVILIANS was banned by an intenational treaty of which the US is not a party anyway. c) the story of the US using Mk77 dates back to before the fall of Baghdad and the story itself has always been about MILITARY targets, I have never heard other sources apart from Rainews that witnessed its use in Falluja.
2. a) White Phosphorous is an incendiary weapon of large common use among all the world's militaries. Since it also produces a thick layer of white smoke and is very glary it s usually used in tracer bullets. It really is a terrible weapon, it just burns it all, doesn't extinguish easily and its smokes are slightly toxic. b) As far as I know WP is not specifically banned by any treaty, in fact as I already stated everybody uses it c) The 1980 UN ban in about the indiscriminate use of incendiary substances on civilians, but while it mentions napalm it doesn't talk about WP.
d) The US is not bound by anything though since it never signed the ban itself.

3) As for the US troops' words, "having heard via radio" that WP was being used doesn't necessarily make for an eye-witness, and most importantly, doesn't let us know whether it was used as smoke-producer , to illuminate or as an incen diary. And it doesn't let us judge its "indiscrimateness".

4) About this video that sunb! reports (, from what I know WP is unloaded inside special containers that crash on the ground and not rain-dispersed as that image seems to indicate. This is absolutely mandatory since it is a substance that burns when exposed to air, otherwise the launch platform would risk getting burned itself. Maybe it's a new cluster system of dispersion, but it also could NOT be WP as well. About this, I am not an expert. Anyone here is?

5) The video is the usual mountain of half-lies, innuendos etc.
One example is when the US soldier is asked:"Were chemical weapons used in Falluja?" and he answers "Yes, WP". But CHEMICAL WEAPONS in military jargon, and in the intenrational judiciary language, are another thing. They are the chemical aggressors and this is a list of ALL of them: As you can see WP is not one of them. Of course WP is a chemical substance too, but following this train of thought exposives are too, and so are bullets that contain propellant.
What about the miserable lie according to which to illuminate the targets WP was not used (this should somehow prove WP was used as incnediary), but that tracers were.
Tracers are bullets that burn a minimal amount of magnesium or red phosphorous to produce a glary tail. They are used to realize what bullets are actually hitting, at night, and not to illuminate, since they can't illuminate but themeselves.

I know other way more qualified members on the boards will contribute and maybe correct me on the blunders I made. Oh and just some heads-up: 98 % of those "journalists" write for communist newspapers. Remember when I say "communist" I really mean "affiliate to the communist party", they are proud of calling themselves that. And of course they are free to broadcast their anti-American lies on Berlusconi's media.

UPDATE: The following is the note from the US Embassy in reply to allegations in that "documetary". It is in Italian but I have no time to translate it, nor have I found it in English. You can Babelfish it, and ask me about anything you might not understand.

Questo documentario appare non neutrale, elaborato da professionisti che non si trovavano a Fallujah all’epoca dei fatti raccontati. Oltre 100 giornalisti invece sono stati ‘embedded’ con le Forze di Spedizione dei Marines a Fallujah per informare in merito all’Operazione Al Fajr.
Il documentario viene mandato in onda un anno dopo gli eventi che pretende di descrivere. Tuttavia, nel confezionare questo servizio, nell’arco di un anno di tempo, gli autori non si sono curati di chiedere alcun commento in merito alle ipotesi da essi avanzate. Se lo avessero fatto, sarebbe stato detto loro che le forze statunitensi non hanno ne’ preso di mira i civili ne’ usato in modo indiscriminato le armi di cui si riferisce nel documentario.
Le forze statunitensi che partecipano alla coalizione dell’Operazione Iraqi Freedom continuano ad usare l’intera gamma di armamenti legali e convenzionali contro obiettivi legittimi. Le forze statunitensi non usano il napalm e il fosforo bianco come armi chimiche o come surrogato. Gli Stati Uniti hanno distrutto l’ultima riserva esistente di Napalm nel 2001. Abbiamo ancora una bomba incendiaria, la bomba E-134 Bomb, Fire, Mk 77 Mod 5. La bomba incendiaria Mk77 non e’ napalm. La sua composizione chimica e’ diversa. Non e’ fuorilegge o illegale.
Le forze statunitensi non hanno usato le bombe incendiarie Mk77 nell’Operazione Al Fajr. L’unico caso in cui e’stata usata la Mk77 durante l’Operazione Iraqi Freedom e’ stato tra marzo e aprile del 2003, quando i Marines hanno utilizzato molte bombe contro obiettivi militari legittimi.
Sostenere che le forze statunitensi abbiano usato il fosforo bianco contro obiettivi umani nell’Operazione Al Fajr e’ semplicemente sbagliato. Le forze statunitensi usano il fosforo bianco come fumogeno o per segnare gli obiettivi. Contrariamente alla presentazione offerta dal documentario, il fosforo bianco non e’ fuorilegge o illegale o bandito da alcuna convenzione quando viene usato in questo modo.
Le forze di sicurezza irachene e la forza multinazionale sono impegnate da due anni e mezzo in operazioni contro i terroristi, gli insorti ed elementi del vecchio regime. A tale riguardo, questo conflitto si e’ dispiegato esattamente come avviene in qualsiasi conflitto della storia bellica moderna. Le forze della Coalizione fanno veramente ogni sforzo per evitare la perdita di vittime innocenti, nonostante la pratica seguita da elementi del vecchio regime, dai terroristi e dagli insorti di prendere deliberatamente di mira i non combattenti, di usare i civili come scudi umani e di mettere in atto e condurre attacchi contro le forze della Coalizione dall’interno di zone abitate da civili. E’ questa la storia vera, e viene riportata da giornalisti provenienti da tutto il mondo. [/url]
November 16th, 2005  
Italian Guy
The point here is it wasn't used on civilians. Of course it was used on terrorists/combatants.
But the use on enemy combatants is not banned by anything, and Willie Pete is not chemical weapon, it is conventional.
Oh and btw, Ted, see how tightly our Prime Minister controls our televisions and press?
November 16th, 2005  
omg Italian Guy... nice post! *claps*
November 16th, 2005  
Originally Posted by Italian Guy
The point here is it wasn't used on civilians. Of course it was used on terrorists/combatants.
But the use on enemy combatants is not banned by anything, and Willie Pete is not chemical weapon, it is conventional.
Oh and btw, Ted, see how tightly our Prime Minister controls our televisions and press?
November 16th, 2005  
I don't know what all the fuss is about we used to use this stuff back in the 1950's for house clearance and for helping to clear caves in the mountains. I would normally draw this stuff than the old Mills 36 Grenade
November 16th, 2005  
Whispering Death
This story is a little convoluted and frankly I don't much care.

Isn't phosphorous just a bright burning material?

Can someone please sum up what WP is, what the controversy is, and what the real story is in like 5-6 sentences so I can get the just of it.
November 16th, 2005  
I'll give it a shot.
White phosphorus is a common allotrope of the chemical element phosphorus which has found extensive military application as a smoke-screening agent and for target marking. It is also used as an incendiary weapon. The point of contention is whether or not it was used as a weapon against civilians.

Muslims:Yes it was

Pentagon:No it wasn't
November 16th, 2005  
Duty Honor Country
I don't think it helps that the government initially denied the use of WP on the insurgents.

Looks like Britian is in on this too.
November 17th, 2005  
Whispering Death
So, what's the big deal? It's bright and it's hot, sounds like a good way to kill insurgents to me.
November 17th, 2005  
Team Infidel
Here is a followup article on this.

US defends use of white phosphorus against Iraq insurgents

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday defended the use
of white phosphorus munitions against insurgents in Iraq last year but
denied civilians were targeted.

The toxic agent was used during what a US army journal called "shake and
bake" missions against insurgents in the battle for Fallujah last year.

"It's part of our conventional weapons inventory. We use it like we use any
other conventional weapon," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.

Whitman said he had no knowledge of any civilian victims of attacks with
white phosphorus.

"We don't target any civilians with any of our weapons, and to suggest US
forces were targeting civilians with these weapons would be wrong," he said.

"We don't target civilian populations. We go to great lengths to do
everything possible to prevent civilian casualties, and collateral damage to
property," he said.

Reports that white phosphorous was used in Fallujah has thrust the United
States into a new controversy over Iraq war tactics.

But another Defense Department spokesman highlighted that white phosphorous
has been used by armies around the world for the past century.

A yellowish substance with a pungent smell similar to garlic, white
phosphorous erupts spontaneously into fire when exposed to oxygen, releasing
a dense white smoke.

Incandescent particles of white phosphorus can cause deep, painful chemical
burns, said GlobalSecurity.Org, a Washington group that gathers information
on military subjects.

A report on the battle of Fallujah published in April in the army journal
Field Artillery said white phosphorous "proved to be an effective and
versatile munition" in Fallujah.

"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 (high
explosives)," said the report.

"We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush
them out and HE to take them out," it said.

"We used improved WP for screening missions when HC smoke would have been
more effective and saved our WP for lethal missions," it said.

Titled "Indirect Fires in the battle of Fallujah," the six page report was
written by Captain James T. Cobb, First Lieutenant Christopher A. LaCour and
Sergeant First Class William H. Hight and published in the March-April
edition of Field Artillery.

A television documentary aired last week by Italian state television RAI
drew attention to the US use of the munition in the November 8-20 battle to
clear Fallujah of insurgents.

The documentary, "Fallujah - the Hidden Massacre," claimed that white
phosphorus munitions were used against civilians as well as insurgents.

The documentary prompted protests this week in Rome outside the US embassy.

Whitman said US forces used the munition mainly to create smoke screens in
battle and to mark targets, but he acknowledged they were used against
insurgents as well.

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable, another Pentagon spokesman, said the white
phosphorus also was used as an incendiary weapon.

"It has been used in armies the world over for most the past century, I
believe. It was used by US forces in Operation Al Fajr, specifically to
target enemy combatants so we could defeat them," he said.