The apparent U-turn by the Pentagon over DU use by aircraft in Operation Inherent Resolve has been cautiously welcomed by campaigners, but is it a sign of a wider policy shift? Is the threshold of acceptability for the use of DU in operations rising in response to international pressure over the controversial munitions and what part has the A-10 played in this?
The Pentagon has announced that depleted uranium (DU) munitions have not, and will not, be used by US aircraft in the conflict against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The policy U-turn contrasts with statements made over previous months, where Pentagon officials claimed that DU would be used if needed; the decision reflects a growing stigmatisation of the controversial weapons.
The news that US A-10 gunships are now also active in Syria in operations against Islamic State has coincided with the emergence of reports that Syrian civilians fear the long-term health impact of the Coalition’s airstrikes.