News / Middle East

Rights Group: Syria Has Used Incendiary Bombs Dozens of Times

Free Syrian Army fighters and civilians help a wounded boy rescued from under rubble after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, Aug. 16, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters and civilians help a wounded boy rescued from under rubble after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, Aug. 16, 2013.
Reuters
— Syria's air force has used incendiary weapons in dozens of attacks over the last year, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday, including a half-ton bomb which killed 37 people at a school in the northern province of Aleppo.
    
Calling on the world to condemn Syria's use of the weapons, which contain flammable substances designed to set objects on fire and cause burn injuries, it said international laws restricting their deployment also needed to be tightened.
    
"Syria has used incendiary weapons to inflict terrible harm on civilians, including many children," said Bonnie Docherty, an arms researcher at the organization, which will present its findings at an international meeting in Geneva this week.
    
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is fighting a 2-1/2 year civil war with rebels seeking his overthrow. The crisis started with peaceful protests but escalated into armed conflict after his forces shot at demonstrators demanding change.
    
The scale of the violence on both sides has steadily escalated, with the authorities resorting to tanks and artillery, then helicopters, fighter jets and surface-to-surface missiles to strike at their opponents.
    
As well as incendiary weapons, Assad's forces have used cluster bombs and vacuum bombs and are accused by the West of firing rockets loaded with the nerve agent sarin into districts outside Damascus in August, killing hundreds.
    
"Other countries should condemn Syria's use of incendiary weapons just as they have its use of chemical weapons and cluster bombs," Docherty said.
    
HRW said that since last November, when it documented one of the first cases of incendiary bomb use in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, Syrian jets and helicopters had dropped incendiary bombs at least 56 times. All of the weapons were made in the Soviet Union, it said.
    
The organization quoted Saleyha Ahsan, a British emergency doctor who treated patients from the Aleppo school attack on Aug. 26, as saying most of them were covered in burns.
    
One victim arrived with what she described as 90 percent, third degree burns. "The clothes had been burned off him. It was the most horrific injury I have ever seen in a live patient. Only his eyes moved."
    
He died before he could be evacuated to Turkey, HRW said.
    
Incendiary weapons can contain any number of flammable substances, including napalm, thermite, or white phosphorus.
    
More than 100 countries - but not Syria - have signed up to an international convention banning their use in areas with "concentrations of civilians". But loopholes and inconsistencies limit its effectiveness, HRW said.
    
"The existing international law restricting the use of incendiary weapons could be strengthened in many ways," Docherty said. "But Syria's egregious incendiary attacks show that a global ban would be the best solution."

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid