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US used depleted uranium weapons in Syria: Pentagon

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobani after a US airstrike there. (Reuters file photo)

The US military has admitted that it used depleted uranium (DU) ammunition in Syria, the controversial weaponry that causes serious health problems among the population.

The military fired thousands of rounds containing mutagenic weapon depleted uranium during strikes against purported Daesh (ISIL) positions in Syria in late 2015, reports said on Tuesday.

According to weapons experts, the use of depleted uranium is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and an act of genocide, because the civilian population’s exposure to depleted uranium causes genetic damage, birth defects, cancer, immune system damage, and other serious health problems.

People walk outside US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, on Feb. 6, 2017. (Photo by AP)

"I can confirm the use of depleted uranium," US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques said. "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."

Jacques told Airwars and Foreign Policy magazine that a total of 5,265 armor-piercing 30mm rounds containing depleted uranium were fired on November 16 and November 22, 2015, destroying about 250 vehicles.

On November 16, at least 1,490 shells out of a total of 1,790 rounds fired contained depleted uranium, and on November 22, some 3,775 shells out of 4,530 had the substance.

This is while the US military had vowed not to use depleted uranium weapons on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.

John Moore, the spokesman of the US-led coalition claimed to be fighting against Daesh, said in March 2015, “US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.”

Later that month, the Pentagon said that the controversial weaponry had not and would not be used against Daesh because the terrorist group did not possess the tanks the weapons have been designed to penetrate.

A war against collective Iraqi gene pool 

In 2003, the US military fired hundreds of thousands of rounds in densely populated areas during the invasion of Iraq, causing a sharp rise in congenital birth defects, cancer, and other serious health problems.

The Iraqi government had expressed “its deep concern over the harmful effects” of the controversial material.

A UN report on depleted uranium released in 2014 said weapons containing DU “constitute a danger to human beings and the environment” and called on the United Nations to conduct in-depth studies on their effects.  

According to Iraqi doctors and many international health scientists, the use of DU weapons in Iraq caused the outbreak of diseases that were not previously seen in the country, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse.

They also argued that DU contamination was connected to the sharp rise in leukemia, renal, and anemia cases, especially among children, across the Arab country in recent years.

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