U.S.-Led Coalition Has Used White Phosphorus In Fight For Mosul, General Says

June 14th, 2017

Via: NPR:

In Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition has admitted — for the first time — to using white phosphorous during operations in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

“We have utilized white phosphorous to screen areas within west Mosul to get civilians out safely,” New Zealand Brig. Gen. Hugh McAslan tells NPR. He estimates that around 28,000 civilians have managed to make the dangerous crossing out of Islamic State territory in the past few days alone.

Human rights organizations have warned that the use of white phosphorus to produce obfuscating smoke screens carries deadly risks in an urban setting. Amnesty International says the substance can cause “horrific injuries, burning deep into the muscle and bone.” The incendiary substance can reignite weeks after being deployed, causing potential harm to those fleeing or returning.

Amnesty made those warnings in a report documenting the use of white phosphorus east of Mosul in 2016. At the time, it said that the use of the substance in the vicinity of population centers “constitutes an indiscriminate attack and can be a war crime.”

White phosphorus, which bursts into flame when it hits oxygen, is not banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, but its legality is linked to its use. In 2005, the CWC spokesman Peter Kaiser told the BBC that white phosphorus is permitted in war if used to camouflage movement, but not if it is employed as a weapon.

The U.S. military has admitted using white phosphorous in the 2004 battle for Fallujah in Iraq, and in Afghanistan in 2009. Israel used it in the 2008 Gaza war, but said in 2013 that it would stop.

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One Response to “U.S.-Led Coalition Has Used White Phosphorus In Fight For Mosul, General Says”

  1. Dennis Says:

    Not the first time I’ve heard reference to NZ army operations and white phosphorus in the same sentence.

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