Incendiary Weapons (Iraq)

Defence written question – answered on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his letter to the hon. Member for Leyton, deposited in the Library, correcting his January parliamentary answer about the use of incendiary weapons in Iraq, how he discovered that his answer was incorrect; when he first discovered that it was incorrect; whether the use of the weapons were in the area of Falluja; whether any civilian settlements were in the area; where the weapons were used; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

On 20 April, my attention was drawn to reports that the US State Department had confirmed the use of MK 77 firebombs in Iraq in 2005, contrary to the answer given to my hon. Friend, the member for Leyton and Wanstead, 11 January 2005, Hansard, column 374W. Ministry of Defence officials sought clarification from the Pentagon and I wrote to my hon. Friend as soon as possible after this had been received in June.

Where, and against which targets the weapons were used is a matter for the US authorities.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes2 people think so

No5 people think not

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Julian Todd
Posted on 30 Jun 2005 10:04 pm (Report this annotation)

No, it is not just a "matter for the US authorities".

It's also a matter which concerns the civilians who have burned and died horribly at the other end of the trajectory of these devices. Or are simply they non-persons of no account to us.

Note, also, that had the letter back from the US got lost in the post, as opposed to merely taking two months to arrive, he would never have felt the need to say what he admits he knew by April.

Robbie G
Posted on 30 Jun 2005 11:41 pm (Report this annotation)

This really is a most curious affair...

Mr Ingram stated on the 11th January that "The United States have confirmed to us that they have not used Mark 77 firebombs, which are essentially napalm canisters, in Iraq at any time. "

But the US had admitted to using mk 77's only 1 month previously, in December 2004 (as another poster kindly pointed out on this site):

"Although all napalm in the U.S. arsenal had been destroyed by 2001, Mark-77 firebombs, which have a similar effect to napalm, were used against enemy positions in 2003."

Strange then that the US Government denied using them at all when asked by the MOD. And 2 months to clarify it when asked?

I'd be interested to know if the correspondence from the US could be released under their Freedom of Information act...

Julian Todd
Posted on 1 Jul 2005 12:08 am (Report this annotation)

Perhaps, understanding the technicalities of propaganda, the UK asked the US to officially deny it to them, so they could report this lie back to the House. It's so easy when you really don't care about the truth.

Alison Klevnas
Posted on 28 Mar 2006 5:13 pm (Report this annotation)

The Iraq Analysis Group submitted the below Freedom of Information request in April 2005:

"All factual information, comments and opinions requested and received by the Ministry of Defence from Departments of the United States Government or the United States military (including but not limited to the Department of State and the Department of Defense) regarding: (a) the use of MK-77 bombs by US armed forces in Iraq (b) the use of any other incendiary bombs or firebombs, including 'napalm', by Coalition forces in Iraq.
The request is for information, comments and opinions requested and received between March 2003 and the present."

We were eventually told that the information had been given by telephone directly from Baghdad and that no records were made.

More information at