HRW says Russian cluster munitions just showed up in Syria

Published October 12th, 2015 - 07:21 GMT
Russian warplanes entered Syria earlier this month, setting off a new era in the five year conflict. (AFP/File)
Russian warplanes entered Syria earlier this month, setting off a new era in the five year conflict. (AFP/File)

A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) suggests Russia has used or supplied the Syrian government with cluster munitions since entering the conflict earlier this month.

The watchdog group says it has several photographs and videos documenting the use of the munitions in an airstrike during a joint Russian-Syrian govenrment offensive southwest of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on October 4. 

Fired by artillery and rocket systems or dropped by aircraft, this type of explosive is banned by most countries because they release several small munitions at once, many of which fail to explode on impact. This means areas where they're deployed become a minefield of possible explosions, tripped up days or weeks later by unknowing passersby. 

But this isn't the first time they've shown up on battlefields in the Middle East.

HRW also documented their use by the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen earlier this year, supplied instead by the US. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has already been accused of dropping them in civilian areas across the country, and watchdog organizations also noted their use in Libya earlier this year. Finally, Israeli forces have been accused of dropping the explosives in Lebanon over the last decade.

After five years of war, there's little that hasn't appeared in Syria's battlefields. And Russia's cluster munitions are just another indicator the conflict's getting even more brutal. 

View HRW's full report here.

 


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