US troops are secretly using outlawed napalm gas to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah.
News that President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun governments around the world.
And last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh.
Outraged critics have also demanded that Mr Blair threatens to withdraw British troops from Iraq unless the US abandons one of the world's most reviled weapons. Halifax Labour MP Alice Mahon said: "I am calling on Mr Blair to make an emergency statement to the Commons to explain why this is happening. It begs the question: 'Did we know about this hideous weapon's use in Iraq?'"
Since the American assault on Fallujah there have been reports of "melted" corpses, which appeared to have napalm injuries.
Last August the US was forced to admit using the gas in Iraq.
A 1980 UN convention banned the use of napalm against civilians - after pictures of a naked girl victim fleeing in Vietnam shocked the world.
America, which didn't ratify the treaty, is the only country in the world still using the weapon.
"The U.S. is the only country that has used napalm for a long time. I am not aware of any other country that uses it," Pike
WASHINGTON, August 10 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - The United States admitted dropping the internationally-banned incendiary weapon of napalm on Iraq, despite earlier denials by the Pentagon that the "horrible" weapon had not been used in the three-week invasion.
An upgraded type of the weapon, a terrifying mixture of jet fuel and polystyrene that sticks to skin as it burns, was used in March and April 2003, when dozens of napalm bombs were dropped near bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris river, south of Baghdad, the Independent reported Sunday, August 10.
"We napalmed both those [bridge] approaches," the paper quoted Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11, as saying.
"Unfortunately there were people there ... you could see them in the [cockpit] video. They were Iraqi soldiers. It's no great way to die," said Alles.
On March 22 a correspondent for Sydney Morning Herald, traveling with U.S. marines reported that napalm was used in an attack on Iraqi troops at Safwan Hill, near the Kuwait border.
His account was based on statements by two U.S. marines officers on the ground.
"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
The Pentagon insisted at the time the statement was "patently false".
"The U.S. took napalm out of service in the 1970s. We completed the destruction of our last batch of napalm on April 4, 2001, and no longer maintain any stocks of napalm," Lieutenant-Commander Jeff Davis, from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Defense had said.
'Generals Love Napalm'
But a Pentagon official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday that U.S. forces used the new type against Iraqi forces in their drive towards Baghdad and defended their use as legal and necessary.
The official, who did not wish to be identified, said that U.S. marines jets dropped the fire bombs at least once to destroy Iraqi positions at Safwan.
"It is like this: you've got [an] enemy that's hard to get at. And it will save your own lives to use it. There were no international conventions against it, the official said.
Marines used the bombs on at least two other occasions during the drive to Baghdad, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported this week.
"The generals love napalm,it has a big psychological effect," the paper quoted Alles as saying.
Marine Corps Maj-Gen Jim Amos confirmed to the paper that napalm was used on several occasions in the invasion.
A 1980 U.N. convention banned the use against civilian targets of napalm. The U.S., which did not sign the treaty, is one of the few countries that makes use of the weapon, as it was employed notoriously against both civilian and military targets in the Vietnam war, according to the Independent.
The revelation that napalm was used in the invasion of Iraq, while the Pentagon denied it, has outraged opponents of the war.
"Most of the world understands that napalm and incendiaries are a horrible, horrible weapon," Robert Musil, director of the organization Physicians for Social Responsibility, told the British paper.
"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 U.S. administration]".
It Is Still Napalm
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 fuel.
John Pike, director of the military studies group www.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 U.S. is the only country that has used napalm for a long time. I am not aware of any other country that uses it."
Musil said the Pentagon's effort to draw a distinction between the weapons was outrageous.
"It's Orwellian. They do not want the public to know. It's a lie," he said.
After the offensive on Iraq ended, Iraqis began to complain about unexploded cluster bombs that still litter their areas and the U.S. forces failed to take them away.