Despite vowing not to use depleted uranium (DU) weapons in its military action in Syria, the US government has now admitted that it has fired thousands of the deadly rounds into Syrian territory. As Foreign Policy Magazine reports:
US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told Airwars and Foreign Policy that 5,265 armor-piercing 30 mm rounds containing depleted uranium (DU) were shot from Air Force A-10 fixed-wing aircraft on Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, 2015, destroying about 350 vehicles in the country’s eastern desert.
Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman John Moore said in 2015 that:
US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.
Now we know that is not true.
Numerous studies have found that depleted uranium is particularly harmful when the dust is inhaled by the victim. A University of Southern Maine study discovered that:
...DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations.
The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. 'These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,' the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
We should remember that the United States is engaged in military activities in Syria in violation of international and US law. There is no Congressional authorization for US military action against ISIS in Syria and the United Nations has not authorized military force in violation of Syria's sovereignty either.
The innocent citizens of Syria will be forced to endure increased risks of cancer, birth defects, and other disease related to exposure to radioactive materials. Depleted uranium is the byproduct of the enrichment of uranium to fuel nuclear power plants and has a half-life in the hundreds of millions of years. Damage to Syrian territory will thus continue long after anyone involved in current hostilities is dead.