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US denies using white phosphorus in Iraq, admits using napalm-like substance

[JURIST] The United States military has again denied several allegations [JURIST report] that forces used white phosphorus [CDC factsheet; GlobalSecurity.org backgrounder] against Iraqi civilians during a 2004 military assault on the insurgent-controlled city of Fallujah. The military did, however, confirm a report on Italian state television that coalition forces had used thirty MK 77 firebombs - a weapon with destructive characteristics similar to that of napalm - against military targets in Iraq in March and April 2003. US Marine Major Tim Keefe described the substance as a conventional munition and insisted that, "Suggestions that US forces targeted civilians with [white phosphorus] weapons are simply wrong." Reports that US forces fired white phosphorous rounds into Fallujah, causing severe burns, were first circulated at the time [SF Chronicle report], and rights organizations expressed repeated concerns over alleged violations of international humanitarian law [JURIST report] during the siege. The US responded by denying the allegations [USINFO report] and saying that US forces were "not using any illegal weapons in Fallujah or anywhere else in Iraq." Although the use of incendiary weapons against civilians has been banned by a protocol [text] to an international weapons treaty since 1980, according to officials from the United Nations [official website], the US has refused to sign the relevant provision. Reuters has more.

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