Beirut: Lebanon is investigating reports from doctors that Israel has used weapons in its 15-day-old bombardment of southern Lebanon that have caused wounds they have never seen before.
The reports came amid accusations by Human Rights Watch that Israel was using cluster bombs in populated areas of southern Lebanon.
"We are sending off samples today to check whether illegal weapons have been used," Health Minister Mohammad Khalife told Reuters.
Blackened bodies have been showing up at hospitals in southern Lebanon two weeks into the war. Killed by Israeli air raids, the Lebanese dead are charred in a way local doctors say they have not seen before.
Bachir Cham, a Belgian-Lebanese doctor at the Southern Medical Centre in Sidon, said he has taken 24 samples from eight bodies to test what killed them. He believes it is a chemical.
Cham said the bodies of some victims were "black as shoes, so they are definitely using chemical weapons. They are all black but their hair and skin is intact so they are not really burnt. It is something else."
"If you burnt someone with petrol their hair would burn and their skin would burn down to the bone. The Israelis are 100 per cent using chemical weapons."
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has repeatedly accused Israel of using phosphorus bombs in its offensive.