HRW demands Syria stop using cluster bombs

AFP , Tuesday 27 Nov 2012

Human Rights Watch calls Damascus to stop using cluster bombs in its war with rebels, as it does not discriminate between 'civilians and military personnel'

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs to take cover from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Al-Amiriya district November 26, 2012. Picture taken November 26, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Syria's army must stop using cluster bombs, two days after at least 11 children were killed in an air strike on the town of Deir Assafir south of Damascus.

"This attack shows how cluster munitions kill without discriminating between civilians and military personnel," said Mary Wareham, the New York-based rights group's arms division advocacy director.

"Due to the devastating harm caused to civilians, cluster bombs should not be used by anyone, anywhere, at any time," Wareham added.

According to two witnesses cited by HRW, the air strike occurred as a group of around 20 children were gathered in a field where they usually play.

On Monday, Syrian activists posted amateur video online showing the bodies of two young girls, outstretched and covered in blood, alongside three young boys.

"On November 25, 2012, a MiG warplane dropped cluster bombs on Deir Assafir," the unidentified cameraman said.

"All governments, including Syria's allies, should condemn Syria's continued use of cluster bombs as these weapons are subject to a ban under international law due to the harm they cause to civilians," said Wareham.

Several international human rights organisations have accused Syria of using cluster bombs, which can kill or maim even after a conflict is over.

On 6 November , the UN's top political official Jeffrey Feltman said there was credible evidence that the Syrian army is using banned cluster bombs in its war with rebels.

Syria has not ratified the convention that bans cluster munitions and requires the clearance of contaminated areas and assistance to victims.

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