New Zealand confirms the use of White Phosphorous in Mosul and Raqqa
By Prabalta Rijal
June 14, Baghdad: A New Zealand Security Personnel on Wednesday, confirmed the use of white phosphorous in Mosul and Raqqa, which has reportedly killed atleast 20 civilians.
Although its not clear as to how many people have been affected by the use of the chemical in Raqqa it has resulted to the death of civilians, according to a report published in the New York Times.
White Phosphorous is pretty dangerous as it ignites when exposed to atmospheric oxygen and continues to burn until it is deprived of oxygen or exhausted. Its chemical reaction can create intense heat (about 815° C/1500° F), and can burn people, thermally and chemically, down to the bone as it is highly soluble in fat, and therefore in human flesh. White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream and cause multiple organ failure. Already dressed wounds can reignite when dressings are removed and they are re-exposed to oxygen. Even relatively minor burns are often fatal.
The confirmation from New Zealand’s Brig. Gen. Hugh McAslan comes after weeks of claims that have pointed to the use of white phosphorus munitions by the US-led coalition in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria.“We have utilized white phosphorous to screen areas within west Mosul to get civilians out safely,” he told the US broadcaster NRP, in what appears to be the first confirmation of its kind. Previously the coalition reported using white phosphorous munitions in rural areas of Iraq, but not in densely populated cities.
Although deploying flammable weapons against residential areas is banned under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), its two other uses that McAslan mentioned are not, which allows powerful like US, to keep such munitions.
This use of a chemical weapon on densely populated cities has been criticized by Human Rights organizations globally as the use of white phosphorous apart from being fatal can have severe long lasting effects on people as it enters their blood stream.
According to Human Rights Watch arms director Steve Goose, no matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mosul and any other areas with concentrations of civilians. “Horrific civilian harm from previous use of white phosphorus has generated public outrage and this latest use of white phosphorus underscores the urgent need for states to strengthen international law relating to incendiary weapons,” Goose said.
The Oslo Times International News Network