Handicap International strongly condemns the reported use of cluster munitions by the Syrian state in the northern regions of Idlib and Latamneh.
These weapons are banned under the Oslo Treaty, which has been signed by 111 states. Syria is not currently a State Party to the Treaty. Handicap International is extremely concerned about the impact of such weapons in densely populated areas.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Syrian military used BM-21 Grad multi-barrel rocket launchers to fire cluster munitions near the city of Idlib in December and at Latamneh on January 3, 2013. Numerous victims of these attacks have already been identified. BM-21 multi-barrel rocket launchers can shoot up to 40 cluster munitions at once. Each rocket contains dozens of smaller explosives or submunitions that disperse randomly over a wide area. Human Rights Watch first reported the use of these weapons in July 2012, and found that the Syrian government is increasingly using cluster munitions despite international condemnation.
“These weapons are being used in areas where there are very high concentrations of civilians,” says Marion Libertucci, an advocacy officer at Handicap International. “Cluster munitions not only kill and maim victims upon impact—unexploded ordnance scattered around combat zones can pose a risk to civilians for years to come.”
According to Handicap International, 94% of recorded victims of cluster munitions are civilians. The violence in Syria also goes against the Geneva Conventions which stipulate that states must never make civilians or civilian property the object of attack. Handicap International is calling on the parties to the conflict to respect these rules and to end violence against civilians, including an immediate end to the use of submunitions.