Reports about British use of cluster bombs denied
British military commanders denied media reports on Thursday that they were using cluster bombs in and around the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
"I can categorically state that British forces are not using any type of cluster munitions, either from the air or with artillery," British military spokesman Colonel Chris Vernon told a briefing in Kuwait.
Cluster bombs, which spread a shower of bomblets that explode on impact or when they are touched on the ground, are controversial because they can also cause injuries to unsuspecting civilians.
The BBC had reported that British forces used the bombs during an air campaign close to the Iraqi city of Basra.
Vernon said the British had cluster bombs and would use them in conventional warfare against Iraqi regular forces.
"We fully reserve the right -- it's a legitimate munition -- to use (them) against Iraqi regular forces, where appropriate," he said, adding that U.K. forces had stopped short of using cluster-type bombs because of the risk of civilian casualties.
"We are not using cluster munitions, for obvious collateral damage reasons, in and around Basra. It's not worth our while doing that. Time and time again, we have pulled back from any engagement where the balance of risk goes the other way," he said.
The U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said it is investigating reports that cluster bombs killed at least 11 civilians in Hillah, a city 100 kilometres south of Baghdad and the scene of heavy fighting. Iraqi officials said Tuesday that U.S. Apache helicopters attacked a neighbourhood in Hillah, killing 33 people and injuring more than 300. (Albawaba.com)
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