14 January 2013

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.

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.The ground-based cluster munitions attacks on Syrian civilians follow confirmed use of aerial cluster munitions bombing of populated areas by government forces in recent months.

  • Access Human Rights Watch latest 14.01.13 media release which confirms use of new types of cluster munitions in Syria’s cluster munition strikes.
  • Access CMC's 27.10.12 media release on cluster munition strikes in Syria.
  • Access Human Rights Watch 27.10.12 media release which confirms casualties from Syria’s cluster munition strikes.
  • Read the CMC’s response to previous allegations that cluster bombs had been used in Syria.
  • Visit another section of the CMC’s website for details global cluster bomb problem, the ban on the weapon, and what cluster bombs are.