Reality Check: Assad drops barrel bombs. So did the US in Vietnam.

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tags: Vietnam, Syria



In April 1968, the United States carried out “Operation Inferno,” in which 14 C-130 cargo planes dropped dozens of 55-gallon incendiary barrels filled with fuel over southern Vietnam’s U Minh forest. The sorties sparked raging fires, but they had limited effect, as they all tended to die down once the fuel burned out. The United States also dropped barrels full of a chemical equivalent of tear gas, aimed at flushing insurgent fighters out of their bunkered hideaways.

The barrel bombings in Vietnam were not aimed at heavily populated areas, and did not exact the human costs that the Assad regime probably has in its desperate fight with rebel forces.

More is remembered about the other controversial methods the United States employed during the lengthy conflict. These include the widespread use of toxic agents: between 1962 and 1971, the United States let loose about 18 million gallons of herbicides over 20 percent of South Vietnam’s jungles and more than a third of its mangrove forests. And worse was the widespread U.S. use of cluster munitions in its campaigns.




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