CENTCOM confirms use of depleted uranium munitions against Islamic State

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Feb. 15, 2017 at 10:15 AM

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Central Command said it destroyed Islamic State targets in Syria with depleted uranium rounds despite a promise not to use the ammunition.

CENTCOM spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told Foreign Policy that Air Force A-10 fixed-wing aircraft on Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, 2015, shot 5,265 armor-piercing 30mm rounds containing depleted uranium, which destroyed nearly 350 Islamic State vehicles in Syria's eastern desert. The militant group is also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.

Depleted uranium, or DU, ammunition is effective in penetrating heavily armored vehicles and tanks when fused with other metal alloys but use of it has been criticized for potentially damaging public health and the environment.

"I can confirm the use of depleted uranium," Jacques told TASS Russian News Agency. "The combination of Armored Piercing Incendiary rounds mixed with High Explosive Incendiary rounds was used to ensure a higher probability of destruction of the truck fleet ISIS was using to transport its illicit oil."

John Moore, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, in March 2015 said the depleted uranium ammunition, which was used hundreds of thousands of times during the 2003 Iraq war, would not be used in the campaign against the Islamic State.

"U.S. and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve," Moore previously said.

Following the 2003 Iraq invasion, Iraqi local communities criticized the United States' use of depleted uranium ammunition alleging the toxic material causes cancer and birth defects.

"Since the first Gulf War, DU has been used in the Balkans and Kosovo, and, more recently in the United States' Middle East invasions," the Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalization said. "It has been suspected as the culprit in lung and kidney illnesses because it is soluble in water and can be ingested as a fine dust through inhalation."

A 2014 report by the United Nations said the Iraqi government considers use of depleted uranium weapons "a danger to human beings and the environment."

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons said the areas contaminated by the depleted uranium in Syria "pose a risk to civilian health and must be isolated and addressed as soon as conditions allow."

In Nov. 22, 2015, the U.S.-led coalition targeted Islamic State oil trucks.

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