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Syria military using banned cluster bombs: HRW

The Syrian military is using cluster munitions [HRW backgrounder] against opposition forces, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] on Sunday. A Youtube video [video], posted by Syrian opposition forces, showed remnants of cluster munitions allegedly near several towns. Markings on the remnants suggest they were dropped from aircraft. The report details several instances of cluster munitions being used and being reported by civilians. HRW has called for Syria to stop using these munitions and for local media to detail the dangers of them more extensively. The use of these munitions are prohibited according to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) [text, PDF], which Syria has neither signed nor ratified, because of the potential harm they pose to civilians. The CCM bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster bombs, weapons that break apart, releasing large numbers of smaller, self-contained explosives which spread out before detonating on impact.

This is not the first HRW report calling attention to Syria using cluster munitions. In July HRW reported evidence of Soviet-made cluster munitions being used [JURIST report] in Syria. The Convention was initially agreed upon [JURIST report] by nations in May 2008 following 10 days of negotiations at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions [official website] while the US, Russia and China each declined to sign it. In November 2010 the former UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro [UN profile] had urged more states to join the CCM at the First Meeting of States Parties [official website]. The CCM officially went into effect in August 2010, six month after the UN's announcement [JURIST reports], as binding international law with 107 countries having signed the treaty and 37 countries having ratified it.

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