pilots dropped the controversial incendiary
agent napalm on Iraqi troops during the advance
on Baghdad. The attacks caused massive fireballs
that obliterated several Iraqi positions.
Pentagon denied using napalm at the time,
but Marine pilots and their commanders have
confirmed that they used an upgraded version
of the weapon against dug-in positions. They
said napalm, which has a distinctive smell,
was used because of its psychological effect
on an enemy.
1980 UN convention banned the use against
civilian targets of napalm, a terrifying mixture
of jet fuel and polystyrene that sticks to
skin as it burns. The US, which did not sign
the treaty, is one of the few countries that
makes use of the weapon. It was employed notoriously
against both civilian and military targets
in the Vietnam war.
upgraded weapon, which uses kerosene rather
than petrol, was used in March and April,
when dozens of napalm bombs were dropped near
bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris
river, south of Baghdad.
napalmed both those [bridge] approaches,"
said Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine
Air Group 11. "Unfortunately there were people
there ... you could see them in the [cockpit]
video. They were Iraqi soldiers. It's no great
way to die. The generals love napalm. It has
a big psychological effect."
reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald who
witnessed another napalm attack on 21 March
on an Iraqi observation post at Safwan Hill,
close to the Kuwaiti border, wrote the following
day: "Safwan Hill went up in a huge fireball
and the observation post was obliterated.
'I pity anyone who is in there,' a Marine
sergeant said. 'We told them to surrender.'"
the time, the Pentagon insisted the report
was untrue. "We completed destruction of our
last batch of napalm on 4 April, 2001," it
revelation that napalm was used in the war
against Iraq, while the Pentagon denied it,
has outraged opponents of the war.
of the world understands that napalm and incendiaries
are a horrible, horrible weapon," said Robert
Musil, director of the organisation Physicians
for Social Responsibility. "It takes up an
awful lot of medical resources. It creates
horrible wounds." Mr Musil said denial of
its use "fits a pattern of deception [by the
Pentagon said it had not tried to deceive.
It drew a distinction between traditional
napalm, first invented in 1942, and the weapons
dropped in Iraq, which it calls Mark 77 firebombs.
They weigh 510lbs, and consist of 44lbs of
polystyrene-like gel and 63 gallons of jet
said that if journalists had asked about the
firebombs their use would have been confirmed.
A spokesman admitted they were "remarkably
similar" to napalm but said they caused less
John Pike, director of the military studies
group GlobalSecurity.Org, said: "You can call
it something other than napalm but it is still
napalm. It has been reformulated in the sense
that they now use a different petroleum distillate,
but that is it. The US is the only country
that has used napalm for a long time. I am
not aware of any other country that uses it."
Marines returning from Iraq chose to call
the firebombs "napalm".
Musil said the Pentagon's effort to draw a
distinction between the weapons was outrageous.
He said: "It's Orwellian. They do not want
the public to know. It's a lie."
an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune,
Marine Corps Maj-Gen Jim Amos confirmed that
napalm was used on several occasions in the
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