HRW slams Russia, Syrian regime for using cluster bombs

Published December 21st, 2015 - 08:30 GMT

Joint Russian-Syrian military operations in Syria have included the extensive use of cluster munitions, resulting in civilian casualties, Human Rights Watch has claimed.

The New York-based body said in a statement that the use of such devices violated a United Nations Security Council resolution from February 2014, which demanded that all parties involved in Syria end “indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas".

Cluster munitions – which can house hundreds of smaller sub-munitions including grenades, bomblets and mines – are considered as inherently indiscriminate weapons and their use is banned under an international treaty.

The rights group said on Sunday that it documented the use of cluster munitions on more than 20 occasions since Russia began airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30 to prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"Human Rights Watch has determined that Russian or Syrian forces were responsible for the attacks", it read, adding:

"Armed opposition groups do not operate aircraft, which means that Russian or Syrian government forces were responsible for the air-dropped cluster munitions."

The group said it identified seven types of air-dropped and ground-launched cluster munitions recently used in the northern Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib. All the recent cluster attacks documented by Human Rights Watch fell on opposition-held territory.

The watchdog said the attacks contradicted a statement issued by the Syrian regime on Nov. 9, in which it claimed that the regime forces did not and would not use indiscriminate weapons.

However, on the same day the statement was issued, cluster munitions fell on a camp for internally displaced people in Idlib, near the Turkish border, the rights group said. Hospital staff reported that the attack killed seven civilians and injured dozens.

“Syria’s promises on indiscriminate weapons ring hollow when cluster munitions keep hitting civilians in many parts of the country,” said Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.

“The UN Security Council should get serious about its commitment to protect Syria’s civilians by publicly demanding that all sides stop the use of cluster munitions", he added.

Like traditional land mines, cluster munitions pose a threat for years after the conclusion of an armed conflict because their sub-munitions often fail to explode on deployment.

An international treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, prohibits the production, transfer and use of the deadly weapon. Neither Russia nor Syria is among the signatories of the treaty, which entered into force in 2010.


© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

You may also like