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Syria military using banned cluster bombs against civilians: HRW

The Syrian regime is expanding its use of widely banned cluster bombs, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [text] released Saturday. According to the report, the Syrian military has used cluster munitions in 119 locations across Syria, dropping at least 156 bombs over the last six months and killings dozens of civilians. The use of these munitions is prohibited under 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. The HRW report is based on field investigations conducted after two cluster bomb attacks outside Homs and Aleppo killed 11 civilians and injured over 25, along with hundreds of Internet videos posted online by activists detailing similar attacks.

This is not the first HRW report calling attention to Syria using cluster munitions. In October HRW reported that the Syrian military was using cluster munitions [JURIST report] against opposition forces. 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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