The United States military used depleted uranium weapons while bombing Iraq and Syria during the late 2015 raids. The attacks allegedly targeted oil trucks in eastern Syria, which was under the control of the Islamic State.
The air assaults took place on Nov. 16, and Nov. 22, 2015, destroying about 250 vehicles. While the military had vowed to not use depleted uranium in the campaign against Islamic State fighters, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told reporters that wasn't the case. He also said that 5,265 armor-piercing 30mm rounds containing the material known for potentially causing long-term health effects were shot from Air Force A-10 aircrafts.
It is still unclear whether the November 2015 air strikes attacked populated areas. Nevertheless, it is known that by December of the same year, the Islamic State had controlled territories in both western and eastern Syria, where an estimated population of 2.8 to 8 million resided.
In March 2015, a Pentagon representative told reporters that A-10s being used in eastern Syria and Iraq wouldn’t have access to armor-piercing ammunition containing depleted uranium simply because the tanks in possession of the Islamic State wouldn’t be impacted by the material. Later, U.S. Army Capt. John Moore — the anti-Islamic State coalition spokesman — said 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." Now, we know both comments weren’t forthcoming.
This is the first time we're learning that the U.S. military used the material in attacks in the Middle East since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, when U.S. military shot hundreds of thousands of rounds of depleted uranium ammunition in densely populated areas, causing deep resentment among civilians.
Will those in power in the U.S. ever learn from the past, putting their policy of intervention and war behind them once and for all?