Thursday, June 22, 2017 | ePaper

Rights group warns US-led force on white phosphorus use

  • Print


Smoke believed to be white phosphorus is seen in the sky during a strike on a neighbourhood of west Mosul on June.

AFP, Beirut :
The Human Rights Watch organisation on Wednesday urged the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq to protect civilians from the effects of white phosphorus.
The statement comes after several instances in which the US-led coalition has deployed the munition in the fight against IS in Iraq's Mosul and Syria's Raqa city.
"No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities," said HRW arms director Steve Goose.
"US-led forces should take all feasible precautions to minimise civilian harm when using white phosphorus in Iraq and Syria."
White phosphorus can be used to create a smoke screen or as a battlefield marker, but it can also be deployed as a deadly incendiary weapon, a use prohibited under international law.
Last week striking images shared by activists and the Islamic State group showed white phosphorus being used over Raqa city, where a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters is battling to oust the jihadists.
Asked about the incident, coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon declined to "discuss every detailed use of munition or capability available across our formations."
But he added that white phosphorus was used "in accordance with the law of armed conflict" and "in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian infrastructure."
HRW said it had not been able to independently verify any civilian casualties resulting from the use of white phosphorus.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said 23 civilians had been killed by white phosphorus used in Raqa on June 8.
The Britain-based group said the US-led coalition had dropped the munition from planes.
But HRW said the images from Raqa were characteristic of ground-fire artillery projectiles containing white phosphorus.
AP adds: Syrian government forces and rebels were locked in their heaviest fighting yet in Daraa on Monday, as opposition activists feared troops would try and retake the southern city despite a "de-escalation agreement."
Pro-government forces meanwhile advanced to a second location along the border with Iraq, where they are expected to link up with state-sanctioned militias on the other side. Most of the desert territory is controlled by the Islamic State group.
The state-affiliated Ikhbariya TV station hailed the government's second contact with Iraq with a triumphant step by its correspondent Rabih Dibi over the berm border.
There was no one to greet him on the other side, but he promised "the brotherly forces of Iraq" would link up with them soon.

More News For this Category

Macron adds new faces to Cabinet after losing 4 ministers

Macron adds new faces to Cabinet after losing 4 ministers

AP, Paris :French President Emmanuel Macron brought several little-known figures into his government Wednesday as part of a reshuffle after corruption scandals started tarnishing his young Cabinet.Macron had planned

Turkey sends first cargo ship with aid for Qatar

Turkey sends first cargo ship with aid for Qatar

AFP, Istanbul :Turkey on Thursday sent its first ship loaded with aid for its embattled regional ally Qatar which has been hit by sanctions from Gulf powers led by

Trump's approval rating plunges to new low in latest poll

Trump's approval rating plunges to new low in latest poll

The Independent :Donald Trump's handling of the Russia investigation has pushed him towards an even lower approval rating, a new poll has found.A CBS survey of more than 1,000

News In Brief

Russia cancels US meeting over Ukraine sanctionsAFP, Washington Russia has canceled a meeting with senior US diplomats in the wake of Washington's decision to reinforce sanctions imposed over its

In high-level talks, US asks China to do more to rein in North Korea

In high-level talks, US asks China to do more to rein in North Korea

Reuters, Washington :The United States pressed China on Wednesday to exert more diplomatic and economic pressure to help rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs during a round

India eyes breakthrough on US surveillance drones ahead of Modi trip

India eyes breakthrough on US surveillance drones ahead of Modi trip

Reuters, New Delhi :India is pushing for U.S. approval of its request to buy a naval variant of the Predator drone, officials said, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries

State Department chastises Saudi Arabia, UAE over Qatar

State Department chastises Saudi Arabia, UAE over Qatar

 The Washington Post :The State Department issued an unusual public warning to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday over a diplomatic rift with fellow U.S. ally

US will be replaced if it disengages from world: UN chief

US will be replaced if it disengages from world: UN chief

AP, United Nations :Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Trump administration on Tuesday that if the United States disengages from many issues confronting the international community it will be replaced

New York outlaws child marriage under 17

New York outlaws child marriage under 17

AP, New York : New York, the fourth most populous state in America, updated antiquated legislation on Tuesday to outlaw children as young as 14 from getting married.Governor Andrew Cuomo,

Iraqi forces advance on Mosul mosque where IS declared caliphate

Iraqi forces advance on Mosul mosque where IS declared caliphate

Reuters, Mosul :U.S.-backed Iraqi forces on Wednesday began a push towards the mosque in Mosul where Islamic State declared a self-styled caliphate three years ago, military officials said.The forces