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Napalm, Chemical Weapons Used at Fallujah – Iraqi Official

Joel Wendland


March 5, 2005

Two days after the US State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli, an official at Iraq’s health ministry, told a Baghdad press conference that the U.S. military used internationally banned weapons during its deadly November 2004 offensive in the city of Fallujah.

During the attack on the city, eyewitnesses described horrific scenes that analysts have attributed to attacks with napalm, a poisonous cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel that has the capacity of melting human flesh and bones.

Dr. ash-Shaykhli stated that his medical teams, assigned the responsibility of investigating the health situation in Fallujah by Iraq's health ministry, had done research that proved U.S. occupation forces used substances, including mustard gas, nerve gas, and other burning chemicals there.

In fact Al-Jazeerah quoted Dr. ash-Shaykhli as stating, "I absolutely do not exclude their use of nuclear and chemical substances, since all forms of nature were wiped out in that city. I can even say that we found dozens, if not hundreds, of stray dogs, cats, and birds that had perished as a result of those gasses."

By April of 2004, Pentagon spokesperson Michael Kilpatrick admitted that the US Army alone had used at least 127 tons (over one quarter of a million pounds) of depleted uranium materials in the Iraq war to that point. Depleted uranium is a substance commonly found in all types of U.S.-made munitions including machine gun bullets, tank rounds, and cluster bombs

During the attack on the city, eyewitnesses described horrific scenes that analysts have attributed to attacks with napalm, a poisonous cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel that has the capacity of melting human flesh and bones.

Inter Press Service reported eyewitness accounts describing bombs that created mushroom clouds and explosions that caused skin to burn even when water was thrown on it. Some eyewitnesses saw indiscriminate shooting and the use of tanks to drag dead bodies to mass graves.

It was during the vicious assault on Fallujah that the shooting of a wounded Iraqi by an American marine was caught on videotape.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces prevented the Iraqi-based Red Crescent to enter the city to care for wounded civilians and bring aid to survivors. Some observers have insisted that the main purpose of this action was to prevent official recording of atrocities committed during the siege and attack.

Tens of thousands of Fallujah residents were made refugees before and during the attack, and were only allowed to return weeks later to the rubble of their city embittered by the actions of the U.S. occupation forces.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) condemned the atrocities committed during the attack. As the attack was suspended, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the ICRC's director of operations, stated, "every day seems to bring news of yet another act of utter contempt for the most basic tenet of humanity: the obligation to protect human life and dignity."

Reports like these made in November of last year caused numerous members of Tony Blair's Labor Party in the UK to confront the Prime Minister demanding an investigation and answers. Others demanded British withdrawal in light of the reports.

Weapons such as mustard gas, nerve gas, and napalm have been banned by international convention since the 1980s.

Ironically, it was the claim, later proven false, that Saddam Hussein possessed and sought to build stockpiles of these banned weapons that led to the US invasion of Iraq in March of 2003.

The US remains the lone hold out on the napalm ban agreement and the only country that continues to use the substance.

Also ironic is the fact that the US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices accused the transitional Iraqi government of several instances of human rights violations. According to the report, "there were reports of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions ... and arbitrary arrest and detention."

U.S. officials and military personnel made this assessment of Iraq’s interim government just months after the exposure of a Bush administration policy allowing widespread and systematic torture, abuse, and mistreatment of prisoners in U.S. custody.

The Country Reports pointed to a large refugee problem that remains unsolved, corruption in the government, and a somewhat "dysfunctional judicial system."

The report does not mention the role the war and the U.S. occupation had in creating the refugee problem.

With great pretense of concern, the State Department human rights report also cited other problems: "The exercise of labor rights remained limited, largely due to violence, unemployment, and maladapted organizational structures and laws."

With international assistance – presumably from forces and officials as part of a prolonged U.S. occupation – the report concludes, Iraq will make great progress.

--Joel Wendland is managing editor of Political Affairs and can be reached at jwendland@politicalaffairs.net

:: Article nr. 10157 sent on 06-mar-2005 02:53 ECT


Link: www.politicalaffairs.net/article/articleview/744/1/80/

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