U.S. used chemical weapon in Iraq?

by Fintan Dunne, Editor Research Kathy McMahon

A US command prepared to use chemical weapons is unlikely to balk at the use of the banned incendiary weapon of napalm. Indeed, in August last year, the US admitted dropping napalm bombs during the three-week invasion of Iraq, despite earlier denials by the Pentagon.

Reports of the attack on Fallujah indicate that weapons indistinguishable from napalm in their effect were used again. Dahr Jamail reports again:

”They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud,” Abu Sabah, another Fallujah refugee from the Julan area told IPS. ”Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.”

He said pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns. Phosphorous weapons as well as napalm are known to cause such effects.

”People suffered so much from these,” he said.
‘Unusual Weapons’ Used in Fallujah, IPS, IPS Also

Other mainstream media reports confirm this account and elaborate on the mindset of local US commanders:

“Usually we keep the gloves on,” said the head of the US 1st Infantry Division’s Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. “For this operation, we took the gloves off.”

‘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.’
Washington Post, 10 Nov., p. A01

‘White phosphorus shells lit up the sky as armour… sent flaming material on to suspect insurgent haunts.’
Telegraph, 9 Nov., p. 1

That mindset also governed the military tactics used in support of ground forces advancing into Fallujah after the first intensive wave of bombing:

“‘The American military has been using novel and devastating methods to clear Fallujahs’ streets.’ Including the rocket-fired 350-foot-long string of plastic explosives known as Miclic, which can clear a lane through a minefield 8 meters wide and 100 meters long. ‘The Miclic…. is highly effective but also indiscriminate, and not normally considered suitable for an urban environment.’
Times, 10 Nov., p. 9

‘White phosphorus shells lit up the sky as armour… sent flaming material on to suspect insurgent haunts.’
Telegraph, 9 Nov., p. 1

The rules of engagement for the US troops were such that civilian deaths were inevitable:

The night before the assault began, the order came down that troops could shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were viewed as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon. When marines asked a gunnery sergeant for clarification, he told his men if they saw any military-aged males on the street “Drop ’em.”
Falluja troops told to shoot on sight, Al-Jazeerah

In the end, not just males of fighting age, but women, children and the aged were all grist to the mill of US forces encouraged to effectively regard all persons in Fallujah as enemy combatants:

‘Anyone still in the city will be regarded as a potential insurgent.’
Observer, 7 Nov., p. 18

Kassem Mohammed Ahmed who escaped from Fallujah a little over a week ago told IPS he witnessed many atrocities committed by US soldiers in the city. ”I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks,” he said. ”This happened so many times.”

Abu Hammad said he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege. ”The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore,” he said. ”Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot..”

Hammad said he had seen elderly women carrying white flags shot by US soldiers. ”Even the wounded people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed.”

Another Fallujah resident Khalil (40) told IPS he saw civilians shot as they held up makeshift white flags. ”They shot women and old men in the streets,” he said. ”Then they shot anyone who tried to get their bodies…”
‘Unusual Weapons’ Used in Fallujah, IPS Also

However, the street fighting tactics ordered for US GI’s played the lesser role in the toll of fatalities. The tactical and bombing decisions by military commanders were the key to the majority of the deaths.

But these reports of callous regard for civilians indicate that the recent furor over the slaying of an injured Fallujah rebel, was a “limited hangout” diversion seized on by a propagandist media keen to avoid more much more grisly tales of an army turned barbarians.


The unmistakable impression from all these reports is that the massacre in Fallujah was no mere technical breach of international law governing combat. These are not “isolated incidents”. They are incidents which betray a coherent policy.

There has been a clear military/political policy to comprehensively and calculatedly flout the protections mandated for civilians caught in conflict. It was an attack designed to strike terror more than to win ground. It was, in short terrorism.

The weapons used were illegal and immoral. Their deployment was indiscriminate. The tactics were indiscriminate.

The relevant US commanders should be immediately detained and interrogated so we can determine on whose orders they acted, that others may also face justice.

We could, of course dispense with the Geneva Convention to guide their treatment. Just as US forces did. We could use torture as a means of getting vital information. Just as US forces did.

After all, we are up against dangerous terrorists who target civilians, and our objective is to help safeguard further loss of life.

But, despite the allure of such actions, we should adhere to the rules of civilized behavior. We should not descend to the level of murderous, criminal thugs.

Either way, the military and any superiors implicated in these war crimes –no matter how high up the chain of command– could get the death penalty.

After all, that’s the way they do things in Texas.

But again, we must resist the urge to take human life needlessly, else we plunge into the moral mire in which these terrorists have already sunk

Courtesy: Breakfornews


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