Despite promises to not use depleted uranium weapons against Iraq and Syria, officials have confirmed that the U.S military has fired thousands of rounds of such weapons. The munitions were used during two major raids on oil trucks in the Islamic State-controlled Syria back in 2015.
These most recent reports would mark the first confirmation for the use of depleted uranium since the U.S invaded Iraq in 2003. Due to beliefs that the chemical was toxic material responsible for cancer and birth defects, the thousands of rounds used in Iraq was met with immense controversy.
According to the U.S Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques, 5,265 armor-piercing 30 mm rounds containing depleted uranium (DU) were shot from Air Force A-10 fixed-wing aircraft on November 16 and November 22, 2015.
“I can confirm the use of depleted uranium,” Jacques stated, “The combination of Armored Piercing Incendiary (DU) rounds mixed with High Explosive Incendiary rounds was used to ensure a higher probability of destruction of the truck fleet ISIS [Daesh] was using to transport its illicit oil.”
Weapons experts consider the use of depleted uranium to be a war crime, a crime against humanity and an act of genocide. Prolonged exposure to the chemical can cause a number of horrific ailments including immune system damage, cancer, birth defects, kidney failure as well as a number of other issues. Despite this, no international treaty bans their use.
Prior to the November strikes in Syria, the U.S government had maintained that depleted uranium would not be used against the Islamic State. John Moore, the spokesman for the U.S-led anti-ISIS coalition in both Iraq and Syria had stated that, “U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.”
However, their opinions have now changed regarding the noxious poison. According to Jacques, it was used to ensure that trucks would be rendered completely useless.
“Given the international opprobrium associated with the use of depleted uranium, we had been pretty astonished to hear that it had been used in operations in Syria,” said Doug Weir, the International Coordinator for the Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons. “The U.S. consistently states that the weapons are for anti-armor use, although their record from Iraq … was further evidence that this doesn’t really bear close scrutiny.”
Jacques further stated that the U.S-led coalition in Syria against the Islamic State could use depleted uranium again in the future. However, according to him, the areas contaminated would be cleaned. Unfortunately, for now, there has been no information on how exactly the U.S would accomplish such a goal, considering that the Islamic state continues to control the area. Furthermore, no mention was made of how such contamination could effect the civilians located around the areas affected.