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U.S. Defends Use Of White-Phosphorus Weapons In Iraq

16 November 2005 -- The Pentagon today admitted to using incendiary white-phosphorus ammunition in Iraq in 2004 during an offensive in the restive Sunni city of Al- Fallujah, but said use of the weapons was legal.

A spokesman for the Pentagon, U.S. Army Colonel Barry Venable, said U.S. forces in Iraq did not use the weapons against civilians. That contradicted a report on Italian state television that said the weapons were used against women and children in Al- Fallujah who were burned to the bone.

Venable absolutely rejected the Italian television report.

Another pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said incendiary white-phosphorus ammunition was part of the U.S. conventional weapons inventory and was used like any other conventional weapon.

Venable said white phosphorus is not outlawed or banned by any convention, al though a 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons prohibits its use against civilians.

(Reuters)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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