US-Led Forces Allegedly Used White Phosphorous In Syria


New reports are now showing that United States-led forces used white phosphorous around the city of Raqqa in Syria. As entire nations creep toward a third world war, the continued uptick in tensions between countries is hardly comforting.

Images and reports from witnesses in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa suggest that the United States-led coalition battling the Islamic State there has used munitions loaded with white phosphorus, the use of which in populated areas is prohibited under international law.  Photographs and video clips posted online showed blinding spots of light spreading outward on Thursday night over what residents said was eastern Raqqa. By day, the images showed low white puffs trailing tentacles of white smoke. Both are typical visual signatures of white phosphorus, which can be loaded into artillery shells.

White phosphorous is also said to “burn to the bone.”  Similar to Napalm, the chemical substance is used in shells and grenades. It ignites spontaneously at around 30 degrees Celcius to produce an intense heat and thick pillars of smoke. Weapons experts warn that when used as an incendiary, it can result in painful chemical burns. These injuries can often prove fatal. Further problems are then escalated because the substance can stick to clothing or on the skin and continues to burn unchecked as particles are exposed to air.

The Islamic State has made claims of the use of white phosphorous by United States-led forces before as part of its efforts to discredit its enemies. White phosphorus, along with other incendiaries, has been used by Syrian government forces battling insurgents in Aleppo and elsewhere.

Militaries and governments are not banned from having white phosphorus. It is not illegal under international law for militaries to possess and use white phosphorus. The United States and other Western militaries say they use it mainly to create smoke screens to hide troop movements.  But the use of white phosphorus in populated and civilian areas is prohibited.

It has not been determined whether the shells that appeared to contain white phosphorus landed in populated areas. However, tens of thousands of civilians are believed to still be in Raqqa, even as many Islamic State leaders have fled south to Mayadeen in Deir al-Zour Province. Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, warned that 40,000 children are believed to be trapped in the city.  The United State claims they do not use white phosphorous near Syrian cities, yet residents allege that they have seen it.

Abdullah, a Raqqa resident living in Beirut, said his relatives had seen what they believed was white phosphorus being used in the city. He also said that an internet cafe had recently been hit by missiles, killing around 20 people who were trying to reach relatives for possibly the last time after the Islamic State threatened to shut down all internet providers.

The spokesman for the American-led task force that is fighting the militants, Col. Ryan Dillon, said that as a matter of policy he could not discuss the use of specific munitions. But he added that “in accordance with the law of armed conflict, white phosphorus rounds are used for screening, obscuring and marking in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian structures.”  –The New York Times

It seems like this situation is nothing more than a battle of words right now, as there is no definitive proof that the white phosphorous was used by US-led forces.  Yet residents claim that they have seen it. War is disturbing and messy and exactly why peace should take precedence over any escalation of violence.


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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.

Dawn Luger is a staff writer and reporter for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up – follow Dawn’s work at our Facebook or Twitter.