Russia Using Advanced Cluster Munitions In Syria

  • Our Bureau
  • 03:43 PM, October 12, 2015
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Russia Using Advanced Cluster Munitions In Syria
Russian Cluster munitions used in Syrian War (Image for representation: thetimes.co.uk)

Russia is either using an advanced type of cluster munitions or providing them to the Syrian Air Force for airstrikes in the country.

The use of weapon near the Kafr Halab village on October 4, 2105 has raised concerns of Russia either using cluster munitions or providing them to the Syrian air force for use, Human Rights Watch reported Today.

According to the report, new photographs and videos also suggest renewed use of air-dropped cluster munitions as well as ground-fired Russian-made cluster munition rockets as part of the joint Russian-Syrian offensive in northern Syria.

“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, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Neither Russia nor Syria should use cluster munitions, and both should join the international ban without delay.” 

Most countries have banned cluster munitions due to the harm the weapons cause at the time of attack and because their submunitions often fail to explode on deployment and pose a threat until cleared and destroyed. Cluster munitions can be delivered various ways: fired by artillery and rocket systems or dropped by aircraft. 

The Kafr Halab attack coincides with a surge of video and photographic reports of air-dropped and ground-launched cluster munition attacks in the governorates of Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib since Russia started its air campaign in Syria on September 30. 

Photographs reported to have been taken in the countryside near Kafr Halab and posted online by local media on October 6 show the remnants of SPBE sensor fuzed submunitions, the first reported use of this cluster munition in the war in Syria. The Russian-produced weapon descends by parachute and is designed to destroy armored vehicles by firing an explosively formed slug of molten metal downward after the vehicle is detected by a targeting system. 

Videos posted online by a local media outlet two days earlier and reportedly filmed in the same geographical area show explosions in mid-air consistent with attacks with SPBE submunitions. No casualties have been reported from the attack near Kafr Halab. 

Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively determine whether Russian or Syrian forces were responsible for the attack. Neither country has banned cluster munitions.

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