The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that it had documented nearly 457 attacks in Syria by the Assad and Russian forces using cluster munitions, 24 of which occurred following the Sochi Agreement in September 2018. The report confirmed that the Assad regime is the world’s worst offender in terms of using cluster munitions.
In a report released on Tuesday, the rights group said that it recorded at least 24 cluster munitions attacks between September 17, 2018 and April 10, 2019, 23 of which were carried out by the Assad regime with the other one perpetrated by Russian forces.
The Network said that the Assad regime and Russia are extensively using cluster munitions causing enormous number of casualties, adding that the use of this type of indiscriminate weaponry is not receiving the required level of condemnation and attention.
The report highlighted the use of cluster munitions in the Idlib de-escalation zone by the Syrian-Russian alliance forces since the Sochi Agreement was reached on September 17, 2018, and how this has affected the lives of the population in those areas. The report also included the record of the use of cluster munitions in the period since their first documented use in July 2012 up to April 10, 2019.
The report also contained two accounts that were collected through speaking directly with eyewitnesses, neither of which are cited from any open sources. A distinction was made as far as possible between attacks by the Russian regime and those by the Assad regime.
The report details the nature of cluster munitions which represent hollow weapons designed to explode in the air and disperse large numbers of bomblets or sub-munitions over a large area. These bomblets are lethal in their implications, which go beyond the era of war and conflict.
In addition to the victims killed as a result of the explosion of cluster munitions at the time of the attack, between approximately ten and 40 percent of these munitions remain unexploded, turning them into live landmines that kill or maim civilians. When these munitions explode, hundreds of shrapnel pieces penetrate the bodies of those injured, and potentially leading to a need for amputation of limbs, damage to bodily organs, and rupturing of veins and arteries.
The report noted that these remnants, which are still extensively widespread across Syria, constitute a major obstacle to the return of displaced persons and the movement of aid workers and Civil Defense rescue personnel and their vehicles, as well as constituting a threat to the process of reconstruction and development.
The report records at least 457 cluster munition attacks between the first documented use of these weapons in July 2012 and April 10, 2019. The Assad regime carried out 216 of these attacks, while Russian forces carried out a further 233 attacks, and eight attacks were jointly carried out by Russian / Assad forces.
The attacks killed 955 civilians, including 345 children and 205 women and also caused injuries to approximately 4,200 civilians, many of whom have undergone amputations of limbs and require prosthetic limbs and a series of rehabilitation and support operations.
According to the report, at least 357 civilians, including 107 children and 31 women were killed as a result of the explosion of sub-munitions left over from previous cluster munition attacks.
The report recorded at least 24 cluster munitions attacks between September 17, 2018 and April 10, 2019, 23 of which were carried out by the Assad regime with the other one perpetrated by Russian forces.
These attacks resulted in the deaths of at least 34 civilians, including eight children and six women and injured at least 137 others. The report also notes that at least seven civilians, including four children were killed during the same period as a result of the explosion of sub-munitions left over from previous cluster munition attacks.
The report indicated that at least 16 cluster munition attacks targeted vital civilian facilities in the period between September 17, 2018, and April 10, 2019. It noted that this has contributed to a further increase in the suffering of civilians and made life even more difficult for them, with the repeated attacks forcing them to flee from their villages and towns.
The report stressed that the use of cluster munitions violated both the principles of distinction and proportionality in international humanitarian law and is considered a war crime. It noted that the use of cluster munitions was carried out by Assad Regime forces, against civilian targets, rather than being directed at serving a specific military purpose, and thus that these attacks constituted war crimes.
The Network called on the UN Security Council to adopt a special resolution banning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, similar to its prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It also urged the Council to provide advice on how to remove the remnants of such dangerous weapons and to immediately and urgently intervene to protect the Syrian people from such attacks by the ruling authority.
The report recommended that the UN Human Rights Council and UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) issue a statement condemning the use of cluster munitions by the Assad-Russian alliance, and conduct extensive studies on the locations where cluster bombs were used to warn the people of these areas and to expedite the clearance of unexploded ordnance. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)