The March edition of Field Artillery magazine, a U.S. Army publication, reveals that the U.S. military did in fact use the incendiary weapon white phosphorous in Fallujah, Iraq, a Daily Kos diarist has found.
"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition," the article's author wrote. "We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."
A second publication, Infantry Magazine, also alleges that white phosphorous was used near the Iraqi city of Irbil. Newsroom sources tell RAW STORY that the New York Times held a story they were scheduled to run on the weapon's use Thursday.
The U.S. has said any use of the weapon was for "lighting" purposes.
According to the Toxic Disease registry, "White phosphorus is a waxy solid which burns easily and is used in chemical manufacturing and smoke munitions. Exposure to white phosphorus may cause burns and irritation, liver, kidney, heart, lung, or bone damage, and death."
Wikipedia adds, "Detonating a WP shell in a confined area (like firing into a building) will indeed cause an effect comparable to the use of lung agent poison gases for those inside who do not or can not flee, with the additional consequence of setting the room(s) alight. Death will occur from lung edema, phosphoric acid poisoning or the resulting shock, or burns."
Use of white phosphorus is not banned by name in any international treaty. However, the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (Protocol III) prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations or in areas that have high civilian populations. The United States is among several nations that are not signatories to the convention.