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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid