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http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?sf=2813&click_id=2813&art_id=qw1061173086568N145&set_id=6 US used upgraded napalm in Iraq attack August 18 2003By Andrew Buncombe American pilots dropped napalm - the controversial and deadly incendiary agent - on Iraqi troops as United States forces advanced towards Baghdad in the war to oust Saddam Hussein. The attacks caused massive fireballs that obliterated several Iraqi positions. Although the Pentagon initially adamantly denied using napalm at the time, marine corps pilots and their commanders returning from Iraq have now confirmed using an upgraded version of the weapon against dug-in Iraqi positions. They said napalm, which has a distinctive smell, was used because of its psychological effect on an enemy. A 1980 United Nations 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 uses the weapon. It was employed notoriously and with horrifying effect against both civilian and military targets in the Vietnam War. 'It's no great way to die' The upgraded weapon, which uses paraffin rather than petrol, was used on several occasions in March and April, when dozens of napalm bombs were dropped near bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris River, south of Baghdad. "We napalmed both those [bridge] approaches," said Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11. "Unfortunately there were people there because 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." A reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald who witnessed another napalm attack on March 21 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'." At the time, the Pentagon insisted the report was untrue. "We completed destruction of our last batch of napalm on April 4, 2001," it said. 'You can call it something other than napalm but it is still napalm' The revelation that napalm was used in the war against Iraq, while the Pentagon denied it, has outraged campaigners and opponents of the war. "Most 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." Musil said denial of its use "fits a pattern of deception [by the US administration] as they try to take on a new world role that is not going very well". 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 230kg and consist of 20kg of polystyrene-like gel and 34 litres of jet fuel. Officials said that if journalists had asked about the firebombs, their use would have been confirmed. A spokesperson admitted they were "remarkably similar" to napalm but said they caused less environmental damage. But John Pike, director of the military studies groupglobalsecurity. 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." The US marines returning from Iraq also chose to call the firebombs napalm. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, marine corps Major-General Jim Amos said napalm was used on several occasions in the war. 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 just a lie." - Foreign Service _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk