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White Phosphorus Weapons in Iraq



Media Reports

Government Reports

Photo Credits




“The U.S. military has used poison gas and other non-conventional weapons against civilians in Fallujah, eyewitnesses report. ‘Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah,’ 35-year-old trader from Fallujah Abu Hammad told IPS. […] Other residents of that area report the use of illegal weapons. ‘They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud,’ Abu Sabah, another Fallujah refugee from the Julan area told IPS. ‘Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.’ He said pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns. Phosphorous weapons as well as napalm are known to cause such effects. ‘People suffered so much from these,’ he said. […]”


Excerpt of an IPS article from November 26th, 2004.

White phosphorus bomb over Falluja


The White Phosphorus Trilogy:


White Phosphorus Weapons in Lebanon

White Phosphorus Weapons in Gaza

White Phosphorus Weapons: FOIA Requests


The Video Archive:


White Phosphorus Attacks on Gaza - CNN Documentary from January 25th, 2009

White Phosphorus Attack on Falluja - raw footage from CNN from November 2004


Media Reports


June 12th, 2008 - ‘Special Weapons’ Have a Fallout on Babies

1 news article from the Inter Press Service


November 30th, 2005 - US General Defends Phosphorus Use

1 news article from BBC News


November 24th, 2005 - Life Goes On in Fallujah’s Rubble

1 news article by Inter Press Service


November 21st, 2005 - U.S. is Slow to Respond to Phosphorus Charges

1 news article from the New York Times


November 19th, 2005 - White Phosphorus Debate Grows White-Hot

1 news article from North County Times


November 17th, 2005 - Incendiary Weapons: The Big White Lie

1 news article from the Independent


November 16th, 2005 - U.S. Denies Using Phosphorus Against Civilians

2 news articles from the Associated Press & BBC News


November 15th, 2005 - The Fog of War: White Phosphorus, Fallujah and Some Burning Questions

2 news articles from the Independent


November 8th, 2005 - US Forces ‘Used Chemical Weapons’ During Assault of Fallujah

1 news article from The Independent


November 26th, 2004 - ‘Unusual Weapons’ Used in Fallujah

1 news article by Inter Press Service


November 10th, 2004 - U.S. Forces Battle Into Heart of Fallujah

1 news article from the Washington Post


April 10th, 2004 - Violence Subsides for Marines in Fallujah

1 news article from North County Times



Government Reports


November 30th, 2005 - Chairman Calls White Phosphorous Legitimate Military Tool

Press Release from the American Forces Press Service


“[…] White phosphorous is a legitimate military tool, but U.S. forces have been highly judicious about using it to avoid harming civilians, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon reporters Nov. 29.


“Pace defended use of the substance, which U.S. forces use primarily as a smokescreen, to mark targets or to flush enemy combatants out of protected positions. ‘It is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they are being used for marking and screening,’ he said.


“U.S. troops used limited white phosphorous munitions against legitimate targets during Operation Al Fajr in Fallujah, Iraq, last year, defense officials confirmed. However, officials refuted recent news reports that U.S. forces have used the substance as an incendiary weapon. White phosphorous can cause serious burns if it comes into contact with skin.


“U.S. forces have never used white phosphorous to target innocent civilians, officials said, and have taken great pains to avoid doing so.


“Just as with any other weapon, troops use a variety of factors to determine the appropriateness of using white phosphorous, explained Air Force Maj. Todd Vician, a Pentagon spokesman. These include the target vulnerability and location, available munitions, and the potential risk to civilians and friendly forces, he said.


“’No armed force in the world goes to greater effort than your armed force to protect civilians and to be very precise in the way we apply our power,’ Pace said.


“’A bullet goes through the skin even faster than white phosphorous does. So I would rather have the proper instrument applied at the proper time as precisely as possible to get the job done in a way that kills as many of the bad guys as possible and does as little collateral damage as possible,’ the chairman said. ‘That is just the nature of warfare.’


“White phosphorous was commonly used during the Vietnam War, where it garnered the nickname, ‘Willie Pete’ among troops. […]”


March 2005 - The Fight for Fallujah/Indirect Fires in the Battle of Fallujah

Article from the Field Artillery Magazine, published by the U. S. Army Field Artillery Corps


“[…] 1 December 2004. Subject: After-Action Review (AAR) for the Battle of Fallujah


“1. Background and Mission. The Battle of Fallujah was conducted from 8 to 20 November 2004 with the last fire mission on 17 November. The battle was fought by an Army, Marine and Iraqi force of about 15,000 under the I Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF), sweeping from north to south. The joint and combined force cordoned the city and searched door-to-door, clearing buildings and engaging insurgents in the streets - reputedly the most fierce urban fighting for Marines since the Battle of Hue City in Vietnam in 1968.


“Fallujah is roughly 40 kilometers west of Baghdad on the Euphrates River. Its population before the battle was about 250,000 people; however, TF 2-2 IN encountered few civilians in its attack south.


“TF 2-2 IN’s mission initially was to attack south to Phase Line (PL) Fran (Highway 10) from the northeastern edge of the city to protect our eastern flank and destroy the anti-Iraqi Forces (AIF), keeping the lines of communications open. […]


“[…] 9. Munitions. The munitions we brought to this fight were 155-mm highexplosive (HE) M107 (short-range) and M795 (long-range) rounds, illumination and white phosphorous (WP, M110 and M825), with point-detonating (PD), delay, time and variable-time (VT) fuzes. For the 120-mm mortars, we had HE, illumination and WP with PD, delay and proximity fuzes. We also carried 81-mm HE with the same fuzes.


“a. Range of Munitions. The munitions at our disposal gave us excellent flexibility. The 81-mm munitions allowed us to deliver extremely close fires to friendly forces while we used larger caliber munitions to engage and destroy heavily fortified houses and bunkers. The standard table of organization and equipment (TOE) for a mechanized battalion does not include 81-mm mortars, something the Army should examine and correct.


“b. White Phosphorous. WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.


“c. Hexachloroethane Zinc (HC) Smoke and Precision-Guided Munitions. We could have used these munitions. We used improved WP for screening missions when HC smoke would have been more effective and saved our WP for lethal missions. […]”


April 23rd, 1996 - Artillery Manual Cannon Gunnery - FM 6-40: Chapter 13/Special Munition

Excerpt of a Field Manual by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps (5,6 MB)


“[…] Smoke projectiles are used for smoke screens, obscuring smoke, and marking targets for aircraft.


“[…] a. Types. The three types of smoke projectiles areas follows:


“(1) Hexachloroethane. Hexachloroethane (HC) smoke (smk) projectiles are available for 105-mm and 155-mm howitzers. They are used for screening, obscuration, spotting, and signaling purposes. The projectile has no casualty-producing effects. This base-ejection projectile is ballistically similar to the HE projectile. It is fitted with a mechanical time fuze M565 or M577. The round expels smoke canisters that emit smoke for a period of 40 to 90 seconds.


“(2) Burster-type white phosphorus. White phosphorus projectiles are available for 105-mm and 155-mm howitzers. They are bursting-tube type projectiles that can be fired with point-detonating (PD) or MTSQ fuzes. The projectile has an incendiary-producing effect and is ballistically similar to the HE projectile. Normally, shell WP is employed for its incendiary effect. The projectile also can be used for screening, spotting, and signaling purposes.


“(3) M825 white phosphorus. The M825 WP projectile is an FA-delivered 155-mm base-ejection projectile designed to produce a smoke screen on the ground for a duration of 5 to 15 minutes. It consists of two major components--the projectile carrier and the payload. The projectile carrier delivers the payload to the target. The payload consists of 116 WP-saturated felt wedges. The smoke screen is produced when a predetermined fuze action causes ejection of the payload from the projectile. After ejection, the WP-saturated felt wedges in the payload fall to the ground in an elliptical pattern. Each wedge then becomes a point or source of smoke. The M825 is ballistically similar to the M483A1 (DPICM) family of projectiles. […]”


Chemical Warfare in Falluja

WP attack at night

Another WP attack

Possible WP victim


Photo Credits




1) This image from an Italian documentary allegedly shows U.S. forces using white phosphorus in Iraq in November 2004. The documentary alleges troops used white phosphorus shells “in a massive and indiscriminate way” against civilians during the offensive in Fallujah. - November 2004 - RaiNews24 via Associated Press file;


Chemical Warfare in Falluja


1) Screenshot of video footage, depicting an attack on Falluja, using white phosphorus bombs - November 9th, 2004 - New York Times/Associated Press;

2) White phosphorus attack on Falluja - November 9th, 2004 - New York Times/Associated Press;

3) Possible victim of U.S. WP attacks in Falluja - November 9th, 2004 - New York Times/Associated Press;


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