12 July 2012

CMC concerned over reports of cluster munition use in Syria

If confirmed, reports would mark first use of these indiscriminate arms by SyriaA screenshot of the YouTube video uploaded by "Afamia1985" shows unexploded Soviet-made AO-1Sch submunitions, small fragmentation bomblets delivered by RBK bombs.(London, 12 July 2012): The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is deeply concerned by reports that Syrian government forces have used cluster munitions after submunitions were reportedly found in Jabal Shahshabu, near Hama. This evidence came to light as two videos were posted online showing at least 15 unexploded submunitions and a large cluster bomb canister.The CMC is calling on Syria to investigate these reports and to make the findings publicly known.CMC member Human Rights Watch has identified the weapons as Soviet-made AO-1Sch submunitions. The canister has been identified as a member of the RBK-250 series, also Soviet-made and delivered by warplanes."If the reports prove true, this would be one more atrocity that Assad’s government is inflicting on its people. Syria must take these allegations seriously and investigate them," said Laura Cheeseman, director of the CMC."These banned weapons have a devastating and long-lasting impact, at the time of use and for years after a conflict ends, and they will only prolong civilian suffering in Syria," Cheeseman added.Cluster bombs are large containers with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of smaller explosive submunitions inside. They are dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. Anybody within that area is at serious risk of being seriously injured or killed. Many of the submunitions also fail to explode, leaving behind lethal duds that claim more lives.It is this indiscriminate and unreliable nature of cluster bombs that has led the majority of the world – 111 countries – to ban their use, production, manufacture or stockpiling by joining the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neighbouring countries Lebanon and Iraq have both signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, although Iraq still needs to ratify it.In September, the CMC will join government representatives at the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention will take place in Oslo, Norway.Syria is not a State Party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, and is not known to have previously used cluster munitions. It is not believed to be a producer of the weapons, but it has imported cluster munitions in the past and has a stockpile. The Cluster Munition Monitor lists Syria as possessing RBK-250/275 and RBK-500 cluster bombs.Links below to the YouTube videos on the canister and unexploded submunitions:Submunitions : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvCZNWxOZXg&feature=plcp&fmt=18Canister: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F92m9eqKP14&feature=relmfu