Use of white phosphorous in Syria
The Syrian Human Rights Committee has been alarming receiving reports from activists inside Syria on the use of white phosphorous by the Syrian regime. On 6/12/12, Syrian activists in Deir Ezzor, East Syria, captured videos of Syrian regime planes releasing, what was confirmed by experts, to be white phosphorous.
White Phosphorous is internationally prohibited by the Geneva Convention on Biological and Chemical Weapons of 1980, especially its use in civilian areas. Some observers have claimed that it is legal to use for the purposes of illumination (yet still banned in military attacks and offenses). However, in the videos posted by Syrian activists, the Syrian regime is using white phosphorous in broad daylight. White phosphorous is considered a chemical weapon.
White phosphorus can cause injuries and even death in three ways: by burning deep into tissue, by being inhaled as a smoke, and by being ingested. Extensive exposure by burning and ingestion is fatal. The chemical can also cause severe chemical burns, harm victims with its vapour, and poison water or food supplies. White phosphorous causes severe coughing, and can lead to the breaking of the jaw bone.
Activists in Syria have documented the use of white phosphorous in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Rural Damascus and Deir Ezzor. In one video in Douma, Rural Damascus, a local struggles to put out a fire amongst rubble and destruction, claiming that the regime is using unknown chemicals. He claims that they attempted putting out the fire with water, powder, soil, and all kinds of things, but to no avail. He also explains that the chemical being used is poisonous.
In other documentation, activists in Sfeera, Aleppo, document burnings on the skin of children due to the use of white phosphorous.
The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) expresses its complete outrage at the reports of the use of white phosphorous by the Syrian regime. The use of white phosphorous is a blatant violation of the 1980 Geneva Convention; and we call for an immediate stop to its use, particularly against civilians and in civilian areas. SHRC also calls upon the United Nations and the international community to open an independent investigation into the use of white phosphorous by the Syrian regime and its effects, and to put an end to the harm being inflicted upon Syrian civilians.
Syrian Human Rights Committee