Using Napalm in Iraq - The Story That Won't Die

In a documentary entitled "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre," RAI News 24, an Italian satellite TV news program, is charging that the US used modern-day formulations of napalm-like incendiaries against the civilian population of Fallujah.

In firebombing attacks on the city, the US used MK77 ordinance and dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus, indiscriminately killing insurgents and civilians with appalling burns that are the signature of such weapons, the report, airing Tuesday, alleges. La Repubblica reports:

In soldier slang they call it Willy Pete. The technical name is white phosphorus. In theory its purpose is to illumine enemy positions in the dark. In practice, it was used as a chemical weapon in the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but again innocent civilians. The Americans are responsible for a massacre using unconventional weapons, the identical charge for which Saddam Hussein stands accused. An investigation by RAI News 24, the all-news Italian satellite television channel, has pulled the veil from one of the most carefully concealed mysteries from the front in the entire US military campaign in Iraq.

That the US has used white phosphorus, along with MK77 ordinance, a napalm-like bomb, in assaults on Fallujah has been well known and leaking out around the edges of the US corporate media since 2004.

It also has been admitted to, indirectly, by the Pentagon.

In June of 2005, the Independent/UK ran an article titled "US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war."

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The London Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."

Mr Ingram said 30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between 31 March and 2 April 2003. They were used against military targets "away from civilian targets", he said. This avoids breaching the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which permits their use only against military targets.

Of course Ingram was still being fed a load of crap by the Pentagon. MK77 is a 750-lb bomb consisting of an aluminum container filled with 75 gallons of kerosene-based jet fuel, polystyrene and benzene. When detonated it creates a sticky combustible gel that cannot be extinguished. Also, there is no stabilizing tail or fin on the MK77, making the bomb very imprecise. In military parlance it's called a "dumb bomb." Used against a target in a densely-populated area, it becomes an horrific, indiscriminate killer.

On the rare occasion when US media have touched on the US use of incendiaries in Iraq, they have obscured the revelation by burying or spinning it. Consider the following excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle report on the attack on Fallajuah from 2004, beginning with graph 26:

"Usually we keep the gloves on," said Army Capt Erik Krivda, of Gaithersburg, Md, the senior officer in charge of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. "For this operation, we took the gloves off."

Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns.

Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted."

Some independent journalists have had the courage to expose what the US has been up to.

Dahr Jamail, who has reported aggressively on US atrocities in Fallujah, has authored numerous articles on the use of unconventional weapons and what amount to war crimes by the United States. The articles entitled Covering up Napalm in Iraq; 'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah; An Eyewitness Account of Fallujah; Iraq: The Devastation; Odd Happenings in Fallujah; More Evidence Indicts US; The Failed Seige of Fallujah; US Claims Over Seige Challenged; and Media Held Guilty of Deception can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The long-term significance of the RAI News 24 documentary and articles by journos like Jamail is that the story of US atrocities in Iraq, long buried by a compromised US media, refuse to stay that way.

They are sure to resurface again and again as the secrets behind the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history spill out.

"You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning... The smell...that gasoline smell...smell[s] like...victory."

— Robert Duvall, “Apocalypse Now” (1979)

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