When depleted uranium rounds were first developed in the Cold War, they were only intended to be used as a last resort. They were for making mincemeat out of Soviet tanks during a potential global war. At that point, it wouldn’t really matter if radioactive rounds were raining down on Western Europe, because the whole continent would have turned into an irradiated wasteland by then.
But somewhere along the line, our military decided that it was okay to use these heavy armor-piercing rounds in conventional conflicts. They’ve been used in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where the locals have claimed for years that the rounds cause heightened cancer and birth defect risks. Now we can add Syria to the list of countries that have been irradiated by these rounds.
In 2015 the military claimed that they would not be using DU rounds in Syria, and for good reason. These munitions are for punching through heavily armored tanks, which ISIS doesn’t have in any significant numbers. But CENTCOM spokesman Major Josh Jacques recently admitted that our military had in fact deployed these rounds on vehicles used by ISIS.
During two separate attacks in November of 2015, the US Air Force destroyed 350 vehicles in Eastern Syria with a total of 5,265 armor-piercing 30 mm DU rounds. It’s not clear if the rounds were used in areas that could affect the health of local civilians, nor is it clear why they were needed for unarmored targets. When asked by RT, Major Jacque claimed that “The combination of Armored Piercing Incendiary (DU) rounds mixed with HEI rounds was used to ensure a higher probability of destruction of the truck fleet ISIS was using to transport its illicit oil.” But again, these are rounds designed to penetrate military tanks, not unarmored oil trucks. Using this kind of ammunition on these soft targets is obviously overkill.
Despite widespread claims of cancer and birth defects by civilians who have lived in areas where DU rounds were used, multiple studies commissioned by the US government over the years have found no link between the use of DU munitions and negative health effects.
“We have investigated ourselves, and found ourselves guilty of no wrong-doing.”