...Not exactly new news, since it had been rumored of their use since the event of the attack. But officials are only now beginning to admit it was for more than just "illumination":
"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.
The US had earlier said the substance - which can cause burning of the flesh - had been used only for illumination.
White phosphorus is highly flammable and ignites on contact with oxygen. If the substance hits someone's body, it will burn until deprived of oxygen.
Globalsecurity.org, a defence website, says: "Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful... These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears... it could burn right down to the bone."
A spokesman at the UK Ministry of Defence said the use of white phosphorus was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area.
But Professor Paul Rogers, of the University of Bradford's department of peace studies, said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians.
...Now, the "official word" is that the weapons were only used against "enemy combatants". But this Italian documentary suggests otherwise; that the weapons were used indiscriminately, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians. Warning: graphic and disturbing imagery
According to the account given by the American soldiers in the documentary, phosphorus particles can burn through skin -- and continue burning -- in effect, being capable of cooking a person from the inside out. (According to a hazardous materials description, it "...reacts with moisture on body tissue surfaces to form phosphoric acid, which approximates sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acids in corrosive intensity.") For a more graphic and detailed look at some of the photos shown in the video, which supposedly represent the effects upon the human body, click here (WARNING: very graphic). But only if you're really, really curious; otherwise, I wouldn't recommend anyone look at these photos (at least without having a sturdy paper bag handy).
OTOH, war being what it is, there's the possibility that these photos are "disinformation" in that they don't really represent what they claim to be; and, according to some skeptics, they are merely bodies in that have been exposed to the elements for a prolonged period of time. I suppose one would have to be a forensic expert to be able to tell the difference.