Multiple videos are making the rounds today of white phosphorus artillery shells being fired into the Iraqi city of Mosul by Iraqi forces. Though the use of white phosphorus for illumination is technically legal under international law, its high temperature and toxic properties make it wholly unsuitable for use in an urban environment, and such use is almost certainly a war crime.
The videos in this case showed air burst delivery of the white phosphorus, which is particularly dangerous for the civilian population in the massive city of Mosul. The Iraqi Army confirmed that the firing was their doing, insisting that they were delivering a “smokescreen” to help civilians flee from ISIS.
Yet this claim is not a credible one given the chemical used, as the toxic white phosphorus would be far too dangerous for the civilians for this purpose. Later, Iraqi officials issued a statement claiming that the videos themselves were “inaccurate,” though there is no evidence they were not showing exactly what happened.
The videos show the dispersal of the chemical near the Jamhuri Hospital in the Shefa District of western Mosul, an area near a lot of recent fighting, and which is still under control of ISIS. This further adds to the suggestion that Iraq was using this chemical as an offensive weapon.