May 11, 2009

War Crimes of the Taliban

There's been a lot of apologies made lately for a case of Americans accidentally hitting a civilian target - [never mind that the enemy was using civilians as human shields] in Farah province. A report that has gotten very little attention is that the Taliban has been using white phosphorus as a weapon. What's worse, they're using it on civilians.

Afghan officials on Sunday said they were investigating the possibility that white phosphorus was used in a U.S.-Taliban battle in Farah province last week that President Hamid Karzai said killed up to 130 civilians.

The U.S. military accused militants in Afghanistan of using white phosphorus munitions in attacks on American forces and in civilian areas, saying it has documented at least 44 incidents of insurgents using or storing the weapons. A spokeswoman labeled the attacks "reprehensible."

White phosphorus is a spontaneously flammable material that leaves severe chemical burns on flesh. Using white phosphorus to illuminate a target or create smoke is considered legitimate under international law, but rights groups say its use over populated areas can indiscriminately burn civilians and constitutes a war crime.

The U.S. military, in documents supplied to The Associated Press, said there had been at least seven instances of militants using white phosphorus in improvised explosive attacks since spring 2007, including attacks in civilian areas.

The military documents showed 12 attacks where militants used white phosphorus in mortar or rocket attacks, the majority of which came the last two years.

The most recent attack came last Thursday, when a NATO outpost in Logar was hit with two rounds of indirect white phosphorus fire, the documents said. Most troops in Logar, which lies south of Kabul, are American.

Afghan authorities have also said Taliban fighters may have used a burning agent — possibly white phosphorus — in a major U.S.-Taliban battle on May 4, after doctors discovered unusual burns among the dead and wounded .

A U.S. spokeswoman, Maj. Jenny Willis, said the use of white phosphorus as a weapon could cause "unnecessary suffering" as defined in the laws of warfare.

"This pattern of irresponsible and indiscriminate use of white phosphorus by insurgents is reprehensible and should be noted by the international human rights community," she said.

But, but - they're fighting against the US and NATO! The Taliban will NEVER be noted by the international human rights community.

Nader Nadery, an official with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said Monday that doctors are treating 16 patients with severe burns suffered in the May 4 battle. The commission is investigating the possible use of white phosphorus or another incendiary chemical against villagers during the battle.

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