Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Russia and forces of Bashar al Assad’s regime of using banned cluster bombs in Syria on at least 20 occasions since September.
According to a report published by the New York-based rights watchdog on Sunday, the attacks took place in "nine locations that have killed at least 35 civilians, including five women and 17 children, and injured dozens."
The use of cluster munitions violates a United Nations Security Council resolution passed in February 2014 calling to end the “indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas."
Stressing that armed opposition groups fighting in Syria do not have access to aircraft used to drop the bombs, the report said that the perpetrators of such violations were either Russian or Syrian regime forces.
HRW’s report contradicts a statement released by the Assad regime on Nov. 9 in which it denied using or planning to use indiscriminate weapons in the conflict, which began in March 2011 and has killed at least 250,000 people, according to UN figures.
"Syria's promises on indiscriminate weapons ring hollow when cluster munitions keep hitting civilians in many parts of the country," HRW's Ole Solvang said.
"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," Solvang added.
Furthermore, the report noted that there were seven types of air-dropped and ground-launched cluster munitions used in the incidents, all of which were made in Russia or the former Soviet Union.
Although the production, transfer and use of cluster bombs is largely banned by the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions, to which 118 countries are signatories, Russia and Syria are not among them.