First Published: 2013-01-14

 

HRW accuses Syria regime of spreading cluster bombs

 

Human Rights Watch says Assad regime has resorted to firing rockets containing cluster bombs, expanding its use of banned munitions.

 

Middle East Online

Indiscriminate type of munition

BEIRUT - Syria's regime has resorted to firing rockets containing cluster bombs, marking an expansion in its use of the banned munitions despite international condemnation, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The New York-based HRW has previously reported Syrian forces using air-dropped cluster bombs but in its latest statement said this had been expanded to the use of ground-based methods to spread the weapons.

"Syria is escalating and expanding its use of cluster munitions despite international condemnation of its embrace of this banned weapon," the director of HRW's arms division Steve Goose said in a statement.

"It is now resorting to a notoriously indiscriminate type of cluster munition that gravely threatens civilian populations."

The watchdog said that based on interviews with witnesses, analysis of around a dozen videos posted online by activists and photographs taken by an international journalist, it has concluded that regime forces have been using the Egypt-made munitions since early December.

It said evidence indicates that Syrian forces used BM-21 Grad multi-barrel rocket launchers to deliver cluster munitions in attacks near the city of Idlib in December 2012 and in Latamneh, a town northwest of Hama, on January 3, 2013.

"These are the first known instances of Syrian use of ground-based cluster munitions. No information is available on how or when Syria acquired these cluster munitions, which were made in Egypt," the statement said.

It cited a resident of Latamneh describing the January 3 attack.

"We heard a very loud sound and then a big explosion. After that we heard a series of smaller explosions," the resident said, adding that when he visited the sites of the attack he saw "bomblets spread out around 200 metres (yards)", including 20 which had not exploded.

He said that at the time of the explosions there were no warplanes flying overhead due to heavy fog.

According to him two residents were killed and 15 civilians, including women and young children, were wounded when the bombs exploded near an apartment building.

HRW said the Syrian army has Soviet-made BM-21 multi-barrel rocket launchers mounted on trucks and capable of firing 40 rockets almost simultaneously having a range of four to 40 kilometres.

Syria is not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions which bans the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of these weapons and also provides for the destruction of existing stockpiles.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, according to United Nations figures.

 

US-backed fighters battle IS near Syria stronghold

Israel environment minister resigns from 'extremist government'

Juncker warns Ankara against migrant deal threats

Tunisia mulls allowing women to serve in army

Number of foreigners visiting Turkey dives by 30% in April

Thousands of protesters gather in central Bagdad

99 lashes for partying Iranian students

100,000 Syrians trapped after shock IS advance in Aleppo

Iran sticking to nuclear deal: UN watchdog

Turkey party seeks constitutional change to boost president's powers

Turkey accuses US of 'hypocrisy' on Kurdish militia in Syria

US-led coalition pounds IS near Raqa

Tunisia tourism sees 'slight recovery'

UN envoy calls for economic rescue plan for Yemen

Bahrain jails 19 for attacks on police

Up to 30 dead in shipwreck off Libya

UN says Syrians will 'starve' unless aid improves

Christian homes set ablaze in Egyptian village 'love story'

Kuwait's main opposition group ends polls boycott

Twin offensives on IS edge forward in Syria, Iraq

Private firms to help in hunt for Egyptair black boxes

New Israeli defence minister's tough talk to be put to the test

Syria most dangerous place for health workers

Concern for civilians trapped in Iraq's Fallujah

Brent rises past $50 a barrel

Iraq PM urges protesters to stay home

Israeli air force carries out strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza

Annual Jewish pilgrimage starts in Tunisia

Sudan accuses UN official of 'false' reports on displaced

Egypt quashes prison sentences for 47 protesters

At least 5 drown off Libya coast

Coalition airstrike kills six Yemen civilians 'by mistake'

Erdogan chairs first meeting of new Turkey cabinet

Pope prays to 'convert hearts' of ISIS extremists

Egypt expels French journalist amid crackdown on media

Israeli rights group gives up on army complaints system

Hamas-led council backs executions without Abbas approval

Netanyahu forms ultra-nationalist Israel government

Major assaults target IS jihadists in Iraq, Syria

Yemen warring parties 'closer' to agreement

New Afghan Taliban leader named

Syrian base used by Russia damaged in IS attack

Kurdish, Arab forces announce anti-IS offensive north of Syria's Raqa

Palestinian PM dismisses Netanyahu proposal

Israel PM's travel expenses under scrutiny