[JURIST] The Syrian government is currently using cluster munitions in its ongoing conflict [JURIST news archive], according to a report Wednesday by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Moniter (LCMM), an organization co-founded by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy websites]. Cluster munitions [HRW summary] are similar to landmines and have been voluntarily banned by the international community under two separate treaties, one in 1997 and another in 2008 [text]. The latest report [text] identified more than 200 munition sites in Syria, many of which lie in heavily civilian-populated cities. Although the continuous use in Syria is deeply concerning, HRW reported [press release] that global trends reflected positive growth in awareness and counter-munition actions in many states. “Syria is persisting in using cluster bombs, insidious weapons that remain on the ground, causing death and destruction for decades. … Meanwhile, other countries around the world that have joined the treaty are showing a strong commitment to get rid of cluster bombs once and for all.” Although the US has not signed the treaty, it is expected that the targeting of civilians, in conjunction recent evidence of the use of chemical weapons, will be taken into consideration as the US considers entering into conflict with Syria.
This is not the first report calling attention to Syria using cluster munitions. In March HRW reported that the Syrian military was using cluster munitions against civilians, following up on their July and October [JURIST reports] 2012 reports of their use of Soviet Union munition productions in military encounters. Syria’s last comment [LCMM report] about the subject was in 2011 Conference on Cluster munitions. There, the representative stated that Syria supported the convention but cited the ongoing conflict with Israel in the Golan Heights as the reason the country could not ban the weapon domestically.