Saudis accused of using US-sold chemical weapons in Yemen

Israeli white phosphorus attack on Gaza, 2009.

Saudi Arabia is using white phosphorus, a flesh-melting chemical, in its conflict with Yemen, according to social media reports. The US acknowledges that it has supplied the kingdom with the chemical.

Recent photos and videos published on social media appear to show white phosphorus canisters being used in a mortar shell. Military officials in the US confirmed they have previously supplied the Saudi kingdom with white phosphorous, but refused to say how much and when the chemical was sold to the Saudis.

When white phosphorus is used in munitions it can cause horrific damage. The highly flammable chemical can burn flesh down to the bone. It has been sold by the US to other countries under the condition that it only be used for the purpose of creating smoke screens and signalling to troops.

The US became involved in the Yemen conflict as an ally of Saudi Arabia in March last year, along with Britain Turkey, China, France and other Middle East allies. Saudi Arabia backs loyalist supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who are fighting the Houthi forces.

The United Nations estimates that more than 10,000 people, including almost 4000 civilians, have been killed in the conflict — the majority from Saudi bombings. Ongoing fighting has also displaced about 3 million Yemenis.

Human rights groups are concerned that white phosphorus is being used against Yemeni civilians. Many groups say that the Saudi monarchy should be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council for its human rights abuses in Yemen.

The Obama administration earlier this month offered a record US$115 billion in arms, military equipment and training to the Saudis, a report from the Centre for International Policy said.

Saudi-led bombings in Yemen reportedly use US cluster munitions, a widely-banned weapon. The US and Saudi Arabia have not signed the international treaty against cluster bombs.

Two British parliamentary reports said an international investigation should be launched into whether British weapons were being used by Saudi forces to target Yemeni civilians.

Israel, another state receiving huge amounts of military funding from the US, has admitted to using white phosphorous in attacks against Palestinians in Gaza.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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