Repeated use of cluster munitions in Syria must stop

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Since January 26, at least 14 attacks carried out in Syria by government and Russian forces involved the use of cluster munitions, according to Human Rights Watch. Thirty-seven civilians died as a result. These latest figures follow a December HRW report that condemns the use of cluster munitions by the Syrian-Russian coalition.

“These barbaric weapons pose an unacceptable threat to Syrian civilian lives,” says Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy at Handicap International. "The international community must firmly condemn this repeated use of cluster munitions. The use of these weapons is outlawed by the Oslo Treaty, signed by 118 States."

The 2015 Cluster Munition Monitor report counts 1,967 victims of cluster munitions in Syria between 2012 and 2014—the highest number of victims in a country since the Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted. The vast majority of victims were civilians.

Worldwide, more than 90% of recorded victims of cluster munitions are civilians. These weapons kill, injure, and maim their victims, and cause severe psychological trauma. Furthermore, up to 40% of the weapons do not explode on impact, leaving entire areas uninhabitable. This prevents any return to normal social and economic activity and forces population displacement. These explosive remnants of war can pose a serious threat to civilians decades after a conflict has ended.

Sixteen States, including the U.S., continue to produce cluster munitions or reserve the right to produce them.