US military: 44 cases of Taliban using white phosphorus
Oh...ummmmmmmmmm...nevermind then. Carry on. Feel free to bury this.
KABUL – The U.S. military accused militants in Afghanistan on Monday of using white phosphorus munitions in attacks on American forces and in civilian areas, saying it has documented at least 44 incidents of insurgents using or storing the weapons. A spokeswoman labeled the attacks "reprehensible."

White phosphorus is a spontaneously flammable material that leaves severe chemical burns on flesh. Using white phosphorus to illuminate a target or create smoke is considered legitimate under international law, but rights groups say its use over populated areas can indiscriminately burn civilians and constitutes a war crime.

The U.S. military, in documents supplied to The Associated Press, said there had been at least seven instances of militants using white phosphorus in improvised explosive attacks since spring 2007, including attacks in civilian areas. The military documents showed 12 attacks where militants used white phosphorus in mortar or rocket attacks, the majority of which came the last two years.

The American military itself uses white phosphorus in Afghanistan to light up the night sky and for smoke screens.

The most recent militant attack using white phosphorus came last Thursday, when a NATO outpost in Logar was hit with two rounds of indirect white phosphorus fire, the documents said. Most troops in Logar, which lies south of Kabul, are American.

Afghan authorities have also said Taliban fighters may have used a burning agent — possibly white phosphorus — in a major battle on May 4, after doctors discovered unusual burns among the dead and wounded. President Hamid Karzai has said up to 130 civilians died in that battle. The U.S. blamed militants for deliberately putting civilians in harm's way.

Col. Greg Julian, the top U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said the U.S. did not use white phosphorus at all in last week's battle in Farah province. A U.S. spokeswoman, Maj. Jenny Willis, said the militants' use of white phosphorus as a weapon could cause "unnecessary suffering" as defined in the laws of warfare. "This pattern of irresponsible and indiscriminate use of white phosphorus by insurgents is reprehensible and should be noted by the international human rights community," she said.

Willis said the U.S. military and NATO have been able to document 44 cases of white phosphorus use by insurgents — either attacks or in weapons caches — but that there may be more. Thirty-eight of those cases occurred in eastern Afghanistan, the region where the majority of American troops are stationed. Six cases came from other parts of the country. Willis said the military doesn't necessarily know that militants are using white phosphorus deliberately, but that its use is still "indiscriminate."

Militants find white phosphorus rounds in old weapons stores left over from decades of war, she said, but also get newer rounds from "neighbors," a reference to militant networks across the border in Pakistan.

A Taliban spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
AP lose his speed dial?
TPe U.S. allegations come after Human Rights Watch last week called on the military to release information into a March 14 battle in Kapisa — one province northeast of Kabul — in which an 8-year-old Afghan girl named Razia was burned by white phosphorus munitions.
Hey! This isn't what we wanted to find out...
Willis said the U.S. can't be certain who fired the round that wounded Razia, who has been receiving medical care at the U.S. base at Bagram, where she has had 10 skin grafts. "There's no way to be sure that it was an enemy round that impacted Razia's house, but based on the plotting of ISAF's rounds and the time of the reported impact, we can't establish that ISAF was responsible either," Willis said, referring to NATO's International Security Assistance Force. "Either scenario is possible, and equally regrettable. One thing is certain: Razia will have the best care that we can give her."

White phosphorus is used to mark targets, create smoke screens or as a weapon, and can be delivered by shells, flares or hand grenades. Human rights groups denounce its use as a weapon for the severe burns it causes, though it is not banned by any treaty to which the United States is a signatory.

The U.S. military used white phosphorus in the battle of Fallujah in Iraq in November 2004. Israel's military used it in January against Hamas targets in Gaza.

Afghan officials on Sunday said they were investigating the possibility that white phosphorus was used in a U.S.-Taliban battle in Farah province last week that President Hamid Karzai said killed up to 130 civilians.

Nader Nadery, an official with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said Monday that doctors are treating 16 patients with severe burns suffered in the May 4 battle. The commission is investigating the possible use of white phosphorus or another incendiary chemical against villagers during the battle. Nadery said Farah's governor told the group's researchers that many of those killed in the battle also had severe burns. The governor confirmed that Taliban fighters may attacked the villagers with a flammable material, though not necessarily white phosphorus, Nadery said.
Posted by: tu3031 2009-05-11