The use of phosphorus bombs on civilian areas is illegal as the weapons can cause significant burns due to their incendiary effects. Last month, Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) warned that the terrifying weapons that had already been used in Donetsk could also be used in the siege of Mariupol. Hamsish of Bretton-Gordon, a Cambridge University arms expert, told Express.co,uk it’s “pretty clear” that Russia is using these bombs “heavily”.
He said: “It seems pretty clear that Russia uses phosphorus extensively in Ukraine and if they use it against civilians, which seems likely, it is a war crime.
Mr de Bretton-Gordon explained that the bombs “are usually artillery shells or mortar bombs and are designed for illumination at night and smoke screens during the day”.
He added: “In this role there is completely legal. However, they are also incredibly incendiary and set fire to almost everything in their path.
“They were used in Syria to burn down towns and villages as part of a medieval scorched earth policy.
“Civilians were also attacked with phosphorus which caused terrible burns and sometimes death.”
White phosphorus is a wax-like chemical that ignites when exposed to oxygen.
The chemical reaction generates a heat of 815°C, a light and thick white smoke.
When white phosphorus comes into contact with the skin, it causes severe thermal and chemical burns, sometimes to the bone.
In a report published in 2018, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that “incendiary weapons are among the most cruel weapons used in armed conflict around the world today”.
The report adds that “white phosphorus can cause horrific injuries no matter how it is used”, with “burns to as little as 10% of the body” often proving fatal.
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David E. Johnson, a Rand Corp military expert, said, “Attacking civilian targets indiscriminately is the greatest war crime of any weapon.
While several allegations of Russian use of phosphorus bombs on civilians have surfaced, the reports have yet to be independently confirmed.
And although the use of these weapons against civilians is prohibited, it is not illegal to use them in armed conflict under international arms law.
Russia has also been accused of using white phosphorus bombs near Luhansk, also in the eastern region of Ukraine.
The head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Serhiy Gaidai, said that
four people were killed, including two children, and six people were injured in the attack on Rubizhne.