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30 Mar, 2024 21:43

Toxic legacy: 25 years on, NATO bombing still haunts Serbia

The US-led bloc used large amounts of depleted uranium ordnance during its aggression, with the impact still not fully explored
Toxic legacy: 25 years on, NATO bombing still haunts Serbia

Serbia is marking the 25th anniversary of the NATO attack on the former Yugoslavia, with the consequences of the aggression still plaguing the country a quarter of a century later. 

NATO forces used some 31,000 rounds containing depleted uranium during the illegal bombing campaign, a highly toxic and slightly radioactive material. Attacks with the use of such munitions affected some 91 sites nationwide.

According to NATO’s own estimates, 10 metric tons of the material were used during the campaign. Depleted uranium has been primarily used in 30-mm armor-piercing incendiary ordnance, utilized by A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack planes, 25mm rounds for Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and shells for M1 Abrams tanks. 

The aggression against the country effectively amounted to a “nuclear and chemical war,” with depleted uranium use suspected to be behind a surge in cancer cases and other health issues registered across the affected region, Serbian Health Minister Danica Grujicic has said.

“It was a nuclear and chemical war that was done against my country in 1999. It was a regional ecological catastrophe. A lot of very toxic and cancerous things were in the air, in the soil, in the water during the bombing, not only in Kosovo and Metohia but also in the north of Serbia. What I saw as a doctor is, first of all, that there are much more oncological diseases, but also that the tumors are more aggressive. The results of therapy were less fortunate than they were before,” Grujicic told RT, adding that the country has been registering abnormal rates of genetic disorders in humans and animals alike.

We don’t even know how many consequences we can connect with the bombing and NATO aggression and depleted uranium.

The bombing campaign took its toll not only on the Serbs, but also on ethnic Albanians the US-led bloc claimed to be protecting, as well as its own soldiers involved in the attack.

“Now more than 300 Italian veterans who developed cancer as a result of that exposure have since had their day in court,” correspondent Charlotte Dubenskij said in her report for RT, referring to hundreds of Italian NATO soldiers who suffered from various severe conditions after being exposed to depleted uranium (DU) during their deployment.

NATO launched what it called Operation Allied Force on March 24, 1999, and bombed the country for 78 days on behalf of ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo. That province was then placed under a UN provisional government, while Security Council Resolution 1244 guaranteed Serbian sovereignty. In 2008, the US-backed Kosovo provisional government unilaterally declared independence, with Belgrade never recognizing the move.

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