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Translated by Ollie Richardson


On June 2nd the AFP agency published the photos of a correspondent: in the photos the American military use ammunition that is similar to those filled with white phosphorus on the district of Mosul that is under the control of ISIS. We are talking about M825A1 artillery shells. Do they harm civilians and how has the Pentagon thus explained its use? The Federal News Agency tried to understand.

Washington stated about tens years ago: the use of white phosphorus in Iraq isn’t beyond the laws of war. Apparently, it’s not a chemical weapon, but simply a combat incendiary. It is used to mark targets, disguise, and to create a smoke screen. Thus, representatives of the Pentagon assured that collateral damage that can be caused to civilians and civil objects is also taken into consideration. The US didn’t begin to deny that it used white phosphorus in November, 2004, during the operation in Fallujah — but only against an armed enemy.

It is known that white phosphorus itself isn’t forbidden by international conventions — unlike the same cluster bombs. But the use of this ammunition is regulated by the “Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons”: it forbids the use of white phosphorus or other incendiary ammunition in places where there are a concentration of civil people.

“Generally ammunition with white phosphorus in armed conflicts isn’t used. But there is a cunning trick or a loophole: terrorist organizations don’t fall under this convention. And if suddenly it becomes clear that this ammunition is used by the US against civilians, it will violate all agreements. All these phosphoric shells indeed don’t act in such a way that the eyes are pecked and everything else: when they come into contact with the skin, they apply serious damage, burns on open parts of the body, often with a lethal outcome. The US has used them since World War II. They already noticed the incendiary effect: upon impact the ammunition acts as a means of burning the enemy or light armored equipment. In short, anything that can catch fire,” commented the military expert Aleksey Leonkov to FAN.

Separate evidence of the use of white phosphorus by Americans in Iraq came earlier: for example, in March of this year. Or last year when the Pentagon itself published a photo of American gunners in Mosul with M825A1 shells.

“Phosphoric weapons are very brutal because it in the burning processes burns on the person not only skin, but also all organs. In addition, it still spreads in the air and strikes those who are nearby and who inhale these gases. For the people who found themselves in the explosion epicenter (the target radius is about 500-800 meters) — it is almost unreal. Everything around is burned out and charred — not only humans, but also plants, buildings. In the East houses are built not so strongly as they are in the West, there they use cheaper and lighter building materials. The use of phosphoric bombs and other explosives is actually a scorched earth policy. For this purpose such weapons are also used,” considers the military political scientist, the associate professor of political science and sociology of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Aleksandr Perendzhiev.

According to him, if from a usual bomb or shell splinters fly it is possible to take cover in an entrenchment, behind protection, it is impossible to hide from a phosphoric bomb.

“In addition to the shock wave, a wave of burning gas also emanates, which spreads and gets into all cracks. For it there are no obstacles. The efficiency of destruction is very high. If this wave got into a building — nothing will escape. It turns out so that the US not only kill militants or civilians nearby — they will simply sweep away everything that is in this district. It is not possible then to carry out some investigative actions and to understand everything. This plays into Washington’s hands: western experts won’t see anything and won’t prove anything later,” he continued.

It is interesting that Washington regularly and unsubstantially accuses the government in Damascus of using chemical weapons, but it itself isn’t ready to recognize the obvious: American ammunition with white phosphorus kills civilians.

“The US after all advocates for the observance of human rights, for humane principles. But in fact they use the same chemical weapons, but in conjunction with an explosive device. This weapon is not simply suffocating and poisonous, but also has burning properties. It even surpasses conventional biological and chemical weapons in their brutality. They actively used white phosphorus not only in Iraq, but also in Vietnam, burning guerrillas. This weapon appeared in America and it’s use already began to extend to other places. To prove the unscrupulous actions of the US, people at the place of events are necessary, the same observers, a system of monitoring is necessary. But the supervision and recording of actions isn’t present, so there is also no proof of facts. That is the problem. The US won’t allow strangers into Iraq,” adds Perendzhiev.

Although in the same Donbass, at one time the UAF also used this ammunition. According to information in the media, its use was recorded in the settlement of Semenovka in the Donetsk region. There was a big scandal when the OSCE recorded violations. And only after that did Kiev cease to use this ammunition. But Iraq, alas, is another story altogether.

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