Iraq: New revelation on torture, use of phosphorous bombs
Iraqi authorities have announced that 173 Iraqi detainees were reportedly discovered in the basement of an Interior Ministry building outside of Baghdad. The detainees, most of them Sunnis, were discovered by US troops over the weekend and appeared to have been tortured, presumably by Shiite police officers.
The troops found the prisoners in the wealthy Baghdad suburb of Jadriyah accidentally when investigating a mother's complaint about her missing son. The report comes on same day that the US Senate passed a resolution barring cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in the war on terror.
Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Iraq's Prime Minister, announced that an official inquiry would be launched into the incident, including another investigation into whether or not the case is part of a broader scandal of torture as many Sunnis have claimed.
US officials condemned the affair, according to The New York Times, with the US Embassy in Iraq calling the situation "totally unacceptable."
American officers had been told previously that only 40 had been held. But upon entering the basement, they found the 173 men, including teenagers, with signs of torture and malnourishment. "Instruments of torture" were also reportedly found.
Iraqi officials said that the abuse was the result of inexperienced and untrained officers.
Meanwhile, reports that two Iraqi detainees were put into cages with lions in order to terrify them during interrogations that took place in 2003 are also under investigation.
The US military authorities on Wednesday reported the deaths of three US soldiers, three of whom were killed in an explosion in northwest Baghdad on Tuesday.
Phosphorous bombs used in Iraq
Meanwhile, US military source revealed on Tuesday that American troops had used white phosphorous bombs as part of their warfare against Iraqi resistance fighters last year. The same source, however, added that the bombs were not used against civilians, and that phosphorous is legal, and not a chemical weapon of any kind.
Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Venable told the BBC that "White phosphorus is a conventional munition. It is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal."
Venable added that "We use them primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases. However, it is an incendiary weapon and may be used against enemy combatants."
Last week in Italy protesters demonstrated outside the US Embassy demanding a UN inquiry into the use of non-conventional weapons by US forces in Iraq following a televised report on Italian television on the matter.
The documentary aired said the US military used a type of napalm in Iraq.
US ambassador to Britain, Robert Tuttle, however denied the claims, saying that "US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons."
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)