Documentary charges U.S. used chemical weapons

ROME – On the first anniversary of the US-led assault on Falluja, an attack that displaced most of the city’s 300,000 population and destroyed many of its buildings, Italy‘s state TV station last week broadcast a documentary that accuses the U.S. military of indiscriminate use of chemical weapons during the attack.

According to BBC news, the film, aired in the morning with a warning that some of the footage would be disturbing, included testimony from eyewitnesses and ex-soldiers who says that they saw white phosphorus bombs used against civilians. The U.S. military calls the allegations “disinformation.” The broadcast coincided with a visit by Iraq Pres. Jalal Talabani.

The film also repeated accusations that the United States has systematically attempted to destroy filmed evidence of the alleged use of chemical weapons in the attack. Last December, the U.S. State Department issued an initial denial, yet noted, "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Falluja, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters,"

Italian public opinion has been consistently against the war, and the BBC says the documentary will likely reinforce calls for a pullout of Italian troops. Political leaders are considering a phased withdrawal in 2006.