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Monday, May 11, 2009

US attacked Afghanistan with white phosphorus?

Sun, 10 May 2009 | PressTV

One of the victims of last week's
US attack on Bala Baluk.

Human rights and medical officials say that they suspect white phosphorus was used by US-led forces in an attack last week on civilians in Afghanistan.

More than 140 civilians were killed on Tuesday when US warplanes dropped bombs on two villages in the Bala Baluk district in the western province of Farah.

Britain's Observer weekly reported on Sunday that Dr. Mohammad Aref Jalali, who heads the internationally-funded burns hospital in Herat, said the victims among villagers taken to his hospital showed 'highly unusual burns' on their hands and feet, of a type that they had not seen before. "We cannot be 100% sure what type of chemical it was and we do not have the equipment here to find out. One of the women who came here told us that 22 members of her family were totally burned. She said a bomb distributed white powder that caught fire and then set people's clothes alight."

This description of material, that spontaneously ignite after contact with air are very close to what was seen earlier in the year in Gaza, when Israel subjected the Palestinian enclave to attacks by white phosphorus dispersed by air-burst shells.

Human Rights Watch identified the Israeli white phosphorus shells as being of the 155mm, M825E1 type of US origin.

The US forces have acknowledged using white phosphorus bombs in other theaters of operations too, including the November 2004 suppression of uprising in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions that prohibit the use of incendiary weapons against human targets.

According to the Human Rights Watch, other than serious burns, white phosphorus can cause poisoning through the production of 'systemic poisoning', resulting in deaths with even less than 10 percent burns.

Nader Nadery, a senior officer at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said that his organization also feared about the type of chemical used in the latest attacks on Afghan villagers.

Local Afghan sources reported that as many as 147 civilians were killed in the attacks by US-led forces.

The newspaper reported one official in Afghanistan who did not want his name to be published as saying, "The stories that are emerging are quite frankly horrifying. It is quite apparent that the large bulk of civilian casualties were called in after the initial fighting had subsided and both the troops and the Taliban had withdrawn."

The high number of casualties among the Afghan civilians has been blamed for the resurgence of the Taliban, whose ranks are replenished by Afghans who may seek revenge for the slaughter of their relatives and neighbors.

Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who is seeking reelection in the ballots set for August, last week called for a halt to attacks against civilians.

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