Issued on: 19/11/2020 – 17:12
Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of using incendiary weapons, in particular white phosphorus, during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh – an accusation that Baku has denied. However, according to our reporters who met both the wounded and hospital staff in Yerevan, there’s strong evidence that it may have been the case. FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago, Roméo Langlois and Mohammed Farhat report.
In the burns unit of a hospital in Yerevan, medical staff are struggling to cope with an influx of wounded soldiers.
Given the brutal nature of their wounds, it is believed they could have come into contact with white phosphorus, a highly incendiary substance that ignites on contact with the air.
“We’ve had a lot of burns patients, but never with wounds like this,” said Ana Cazalgazyan, an ICU anaesthetist.
Her colleague, French-Armenian doctor Ardsiv Papazyan says the wounds are typical of a chemical or phosphorus weapon.
“They inhale the substance in question and it burns the lungs, so what you see on the surface, the same thing is happening on a pulmonary level too,” Dr Papazyan explained.
Treating these burns presents serious challenges. Wounds that may appear to be healing can take a critical turn for the worse, while other patients can encounter problems with metabolism and even unexplained heart attacks.
Phosphorus is not banned under international law but its use is tightly regulated under an international agreement that neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia have signed.
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