US military in Iraq used depleted uranium weapons (DU) in civilian-populated areas during the 2003 military campaign, according to a new report of Dutch peace group Pax. This came in breach of official advice meant to prevent suffering in conflicts.
Most of the DU rounds fired by the US-led coalition were in or near heavily populated areas, says the study. Samawah, Nasiriyah and Basrah are just some urban areas where ammunition was deployed – with around 1,500 anti-armor rounds fired directly at Saddam Hussein’s troops.
Most of the firing locations however remain unknown, as more than 300,000 DU rounds are believed to have been fired by the US-led military. But the group estimates there are more than 300 sites contaminated by DU.
“The use of DU against these targets questions the adherence of coalition forces to their own principles and guidelines. They should be held accountable for the consequences,” Zwijnenburg said, citing Air Force Office of the Judge Advocate 1975 memo that restricted the use of such ammunition.
“Use of this munition solely against personnel is prohibited if alternative weapons are available,” the memo said, because of “unnecessary suffering and poison”.
The Dutch peace group got the GPS coordinates of DU rounds from the country’s Defense Ministry under a freedom of information law. The ministry, in its turn, gained the information, worrying about the potential contamination of its own troops in the country.
Among the key findings of the group is the reluctance of the coalition forces to extend their clean-up operations beyond their own bases, or to share information on DU with the Iraqi government. As a result, the contaminated waste filled city centres, towns and villages. And not local people are stripping them for valuable parts and children use them as playgrounds.
Source: Voice of Russia