04 March 2013
Cluster bomb casualties continue to rise as world watches on
(London, 4 March 2013): The Assad regime continues its horrific use of cluster munitions, with at least 19 killed and more than 60 injured in the latest reported attack in Aleppo, Syria on Friday 1 March.Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera, who witnessed the aftermath of the latest attacks reported that many of the victims were children.
The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) continues its call for the immediate halt in use of these internationally banned weapons and for governments worldwide to condemn and address this outrage."Not only are these cluster bomb attacks killing civilians, including Syrian children, right now, the unreliability of this weapon means that years, even decades after the conflict in Syria has ended, unexploded submunitions will put lives and livelihoods under threat.This leaves a deadly legacy as we have seen in Lebanon, Laos, Serbia, Iraq and other countries," said CMC Director, Sarah Blakemore.A majority of the world’s nations have comprehensively outlawed cluster munitions through the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of the weapon and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims.
More than 15 governments to date have condemned Syria’s use of cluster munitions, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Japan has also condemned use without naming Syria.Please see below CMC’s previous reporting on Syria's use of cluster munitions on 14 January 2013, 27 November 2012 and 13 October 2012.
Cluster Munition Coalition Calls on Syrian Government to End Use of Banned Weapons
(London, 14 January 2013): Following reports today that new types of cluster munitions are being used against civilians by the Syrian Armed Forces, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is calling on the Syrian government to immediately halt all use of these banned weapons and for all other states to condemn this use in the strongest possible language.
The documentation by CMC member Human Rights Watch (HRW) indicates that Syria is using ground-based cluster munitions fired by multi-barrel rocket launchers for the first time in the conflict, effectively expanding its use of these internationally rejected weapons. The use of unguided rockets to deliver the cluster munitions further increases the weapons’ unreliability and wide-area impact, exacerbating the risk to civilians from this notoriously indiscriminate weapon. No information is available on how or when Syria acquired these cluster munitions, which were made in Egypt.
The attacks, carried out near the city of Idlib in December 2012 and in Latamneh, a town northwest of Hama, on January 3, 2013, were verified through eyewitness interviews, analysis of videos posted online by local activists, and photographs taken by an international journalist.One civilian was killed and 15 others including women and children were injured while another man was killed by an unexploded submunition, in the latest attack."The continued use of cluster munitions by the Government of Syria against civilians is cause for international outrage," said CMC Director, Sarah Blakemore. "Governments worldwide need to continue to speak out against this outrage, to protect Syrian children, women and men from further harm," said Blakemore.
A majority of the world’s nations have comprehensively banned the use of cluster munitions through the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which came into force on August 1, 2010. Syria, not a party to the convention, is increasingly isolated internationally in its use of this weapon.A total of 77 states are party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans cluster munitions and requires clearance of contaminated areas and assistance to victims. Another 34 states have signed but not yet ratified the Convention.
Further outrage as children are latest victims of Syria cluster bomb attacks
(London, 27 November 2012): Use of cluster munitions by Syrian Armed Forces may have caused the deaths of at least 11 children and wounded others playing near their homes outside Damascus. This follows confirmed use of cluster munitions by Assad’s forces in recent months. The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is calling on the Syrian government to stop immediately all use of these banned weapons, and is pressing all other states to condemn this outrage.Sarah Blakemore, Director of the CMC, said, "These attacks leading to so many children’s deaths mark a new low for the Syrian government. The indiscriminate nature of this weapon is exactly why it is banned by the majority of the world. Other governments must condemn Syria’s use of cluster munitions and call for a complete halt in use of the weapon."CMC member organisation Human Rights Watch has confirmed that the remnants according to video footage include at least two RBK-250/275 cluster bombs and dozens of their AO1-SCH submunitions which failed to explode.
The destructive footprint of this type of cluster bomb is 4,800 square meters.The CMC reiterates its call for all countries to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and to end for all time the unacceptable harm to innocent civilians caused by cluster bombs. Cluster munitions have a devastating impact, both at the time of use and for years after a conflict ends. More than half the world has joined the global ban on cluster munitions, which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of the weapon."The use of cluster munitions is never acceptable, and their use in populated areas is even more outrageous given the clear risk to civilians. This tragedy further underlines the need for all production, trade and use of cluster bombs to end now," said Blakemore.
Syria use of cluster bombs confirmed – states must publically condemn this outrage (London, 14 October 2012): Following evidence released by CMC member organisation Human Rights Watch and others, showing widespread use of cluster munitions by Syrian Armed Forces in recent days, the CMC is calling on the Syrian government to stop immediately all use of these banned weapons, and is pressing all other states to condemn this further outrage against Syria’s population.
Amy Little, Campaign Manager for the CMC, said: "This new evidence confirms our worst fears. It now appears that in the past week the Assad regime has used cluster bombs in numerous locations, including in populated areas, risking the lives of far too many civilians. This absolutely has to stop. We urge the many states that have already banned these indiscriminate weapons to publicly condemn Syria’s actions and to call for a complete halt in cluster bomb use.
We encourage other countries to also make this demand in recognition of the danger these weapons pose to civilians."Human Rights Watch has confirmed that the cluster munition remnants shown in the videos are Soviet-made RBK-250 series cluster bomb canisters and AO-1SCh fragmentation bomblets. It is not known at this time from where Syria acquired them.For the CMC this tragedy further underlines the need for all production and trade of cluster bombs to end now. The CMC reiterates its call for all countries to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and to end for all time the unacceptable harm to innocent civilians caused by cluster bombs."As we have seen in Lao PDR, Lebanon, Iraq, Serbia and elsewhere, cluster munitions have a devastating impact, both at the time of use and for years after a conflict ends, and they will only prolong civilian suffering in Syria.
It is for this reason cluster bombs have been recognised as unacceptable – under all circumstances – and banned by the vast majority of the world," Little added."The footage of people – even children – handling unexploded submunitions in Syria is of massive concern. Not only must all use of cluster munitions in Syria stop, but these unexploded submunitions need to be cleared and destroyed immediately, and clear warnings given out about the terrible danger they pose," said Little.