HRW accuses Russia of using cluster munition in Syria

Human Rights Watch (HRW) echoes Syrian activist's accusations that Russia is using cluster weapons in attacking rebels

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A bomb is released from Russian Su-34 strike fighter in Syria

Updated Oct 13, 2015

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported the use of cluster weapons - cluster munitions are bombs that contain hundreds of bomblets - by Russia either by releasing them through their warplanes or by providing the Assad regime with them, according to Syrian activists reports.

The New-York-based organisation accessed photographs which show cluster munition used in Kafr Halab, a southwest village in Syria's Aleppo on October 4.

"It's disturbing that yet another type of cluster munition is being used in Syria given the harm they cause to civilians for years to come," said Nadim Houry, the Human Rights Watch's deputy Middle East director.

"Neither Russia nor Syria should use cluster munitions, and both should join the international ban without delay."

On September 30 Russia started an aerial campaign targeting rebel positions, though they claimed that its aim was to attack ISIS.

The regime along with Russian warplanes are dropping the cluster munitions with the use of rockets or helicopters.

Not only do the cluster munitions spread explosives over large areas, they are haphazard in nature and continue to kill long after the initial attack due to previously dropped unexploded bombs detonating.

The use of these weapons in Kafr Halab coincides with evidence that shows the Assad regime and Russian warplanes them in Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib since the Russian intervention in the Syrian war.

Activists posted online photographs and videos which were reportedly taken in the town of Keferzita, northwest of Hama and Masaran in Idlib province. The town has been targeted by Russian warplanes, according to the activists. The videos and the photographs show unexploded AO-2.5RT submunition and remnants of a RBK-500 canister, that can contain up to 108 submunitions.

HRW earlier documented that the Syrian regime has been using cluster bombs since 2012, along with launching rockets that contain cluster bombs since 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to local media, that Russia will use “time-proven bombs and missiles equipped with state-of-the-art system guidance” if it meets “the national interests of our state and the Russian people."

Syrian military sources told AP on Sunday that the Syrian regime forces seized Tak Sukayk village in northern Hama province. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that regime troops alongside with Hezbollah fighters - who have been allying Assad forces since the war in Syria started - recaptured the town of al Bahsa in Sahel al Ghab in northwest Hama from rebel fighters.

The four-year-long war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people, while it displaced half of the pre-war 22 million population of the country internally and in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. At least 350,000 refugee have claimed asylum in European countries since the war began in Syria in 2011.

According to the UNHCR, in a bigger humanitarian dilemma, thousands of refugees traveling to seek asylum have drowned or died on the way to Europe.

TRTWorld and agencies