Falljuah: The Hidden Massacre

Revolution #023, November 20, 2005, posted at revcom.us

To justify the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government claimed that Iraq had chemical weapons. Now it has come out that the U.S. not only possesses horrific chemical weapons but is using them in the Iraq war, including against civilians.

A powerful documentary, "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, presents new evidence that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004, killing both Iraqi resistance fighters and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this chemical weapon.

An American soldier who fought at Fallujah was interviewed for the documentary.

"I heard the order being issued to be careful because white phosphorus was being used on Fallujah. In military slang this is known as Willy Pete," said former U.S. Army Specialist Jeff Englehart. "Phosphorus burns bodies, melting the flesh right down to the bone. I saw the burned bodies of women and children. The phosphorous explodes and forms a plume. Whoever is within a 150-meter radius has no hope."

The RAI documentary and photos on the station's website show the horrific damage that white phosphorus can do. The high-quality, color close-ups provided by the Studies Center of Human Rights in Fallujah show bodies of Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whose clothes remain largely intact but whose skin has been dissolved, caramelized or turned the consistency of leather by the shells.

The documentary also reveals that the U.S. has been using a new generation of napalm weapons--called MK77 in Iraq.

Last year, during the attack on Fallujah, Al Jazeera reported many stories of napalm being used against the people of the city. Napalm is a jellified gasoline designed to stick to human skin and other surfaces and cannot be extinguished with water.

The U.S. dismissed these charges as lies. However, in June of 2005 the U.S. admitted that it had used MK77 extensively in Iraq and that it had lied even to its British allies about this. Confirming the use of 510-pound napalm bombs in Iraq, a senior U.S. commander said that "the generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect."

Maurizio Torrealta, news editor for the Italian station, said that the station began its investigation after seeing strange photographs where bodies were burned but clothes were untouched, showing that a chemical agent that acts aggressively against the skin was being deployed.

The army's use of white phosphorus and napalm in Fallujah is a war crime. The 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of white phosphorus against civilian populations or by air attack against military forces that are located within concentrations of civilians, "since its use causes indiscriminate and extreme injuries especially when deployed in an urban area."

But "indiscriminate and extreme injuries" are a vital part of the terror campaign that the U.S. wanted to unleash against Fallujah. Fallujah was once home to 300,000 people. The people of Fallujah defied the U.S. occupation. It became a symbol for the whole of Iraq, and for the whole world. And so, in November 2004, Fallujah became the target of a vengeful and ruthless punishment.

The U.S. claims that white phosphorus was only used in Fallujah to illuminate "enemy forces" and provide cover for its troops. However, an article in the Army's own Field Artillery journal shows that this is a lie. The article describes the use of white phosphorus in Fallujah, saying that it was used "as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents." The article goes on to describe what the army describes as "shake and bake" missions where white phosphorus shells are used together with conventional high explosives.

The video and photos from Fallujah are hard to look at. But every person in this country needs to see these pictures and confront the fact that this government is committing war crimes in Iraq. And once you know the truth you need to act. To do otherwise is to be complicit in this atrocity.

The video Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre is available on the RAI site and elsewhere on the web: http://www.rainews24.rai.it/ran24/inchiesta/video.asp

Send us your comments.