News / Middle East

VOA Finds Evidence of Syrian Cluster Bomb Use

VOA Finds Evidence of Syrian Cluster Bomb Usei
X
March 04, 2013 3:56 PM
The Syrian government says it does not use cluster bombs against rebels or civilians. Human rights groups, however, say they have accumulated an array of evidence proving otherwise. On a recent trip to northern Syria, VOA's Scott Bobb found the remains of bombs that seem to bolster the activists' claims.
VOA Finds Evidence of Syrian Cluster Bomb Use
Scott Bobb
The Syrian government says it does not use cluster bombs against rebels or civilians. Human rights groups, however, say they have accumulated an array of evidence proving otherwise.
Screen capture from video shot by VOA shows remains of bomb with Russian markings that seems to bolster the activists' claims that Syrian government used cluster bombs, in Azaz, Syria. (VOA)Screen capture from video shot by VOA shows remains of bomb with Russian markings that seems to bolster the activists' claims that Syrian government used cluster bombs, in Azaz, Syria. (VOA)
x
Screen capture from video shot by VOA shows remains of bomb with Russian markings that seems to bolster the activists' claims that Syrian government used cluster bombs, in Azaz, Syria. (VOA)
Screen capture from video shot by VOA shows remains of bomb with Russian markings that seems to bolster the activists' claims that Syrian government used cluster bombs, in Azaz, Syria. (VOA)


In late January, residents of Azaz say Syrian government forces dropped nine large cluster bombs, what arms experts say is a particularly deadly weapon, on a neighborhood near the outskirts of town.
 
Russian markings on the remains indicate they were made more than 30 years ago. Each cluster bomb is specified to contain 30 smaller bombs — commonly referred to as submunitions or bomblets — that detach from the main bomb amid descent in order to inflict maximum damage. Local resident Mohamed Bakri described what happened.

“We were in our houses when we heard an airplane. Some people ran out into the fields and then the airplane dropped the bombs. We are farmers here. There there are no rebels or terrorists,” said Bakri.

Residents say only one of the large bombs detonated. Its bomblets landed in many places. Witnesses say one penetrated a house and seriously wounded Bakri's brother-in-law, a female cousin and three children.

The Syrian army said it does not possess cluster bombs, and Russia's foreign minister has said the Syrian government is not using cluster munitions from Russia.

VOA showed photos of the bomb parts to several weapons experts. Chris Harmer, with the Institute for the Study of War, said they are not cluster weapons.

"This looks to me like an 81 millimeter mortar, or possibly a 120-millimeter mortar. This is clearly not a cluster munition," said Harmer.

​Several other analysts contacted by VOA, however, strongly disagree.

An expert with the Washington-based Global Security group, Joseph Trevithick, said the photos show a type of cluster bomb designed to destroy armored vehicles, such as tanks, not people.

“It suggests that the government is either trying to instill fear in the local population or [it] fears the local population has been infiltrated by anti-government elements and is using the means it feels it has available to attack them,” he said.

Cluster Munitions Factbox:

  • Weapon containing many explosive submunitions or bomblets
  • Dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground
  • Weapon breaks open in the air, scattering submunitions across a broad area
  • Many submunitions fail to explode on impact, putting people at risk for years
  • Several countries have used cluster bombs, including the United States
  • The U.S. says cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility, and can often result in less collateral damage than a larger bomb or artillery shell
Human rights groups say the Syrian military since October regularly has been using cluster bombs on civilians in rebel-controlled areas.

Donatella Rovero is documenting cluster bomb attacks for Amnesty International. She said cluster bombs have killed or wounded tens of thousands of civilians, and have virtually emptied villages and towns in rebel-held areas.

“Yes. Quite clearly the use of indiscriminate weapons on non-military targets and certainly on the scale as we've seen in Syria, there is no doubt that this constitutes war crimes,” said Rovero.

U.N. officials are urging the International Criminal Court to investigate senior Syrian officials for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Azaz has been bombed repeatedly by Syrian government forces since the rebels seized it eight months ago. Once home to 55,000 people, it is now a ghost town: 90 percent of the residents have fled.

You May Like

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Will from: Northern California
March 05, 2013 11:05 AM
Both munitions in the diagram appear to be artillery shells rather than either aerial bombs or mortar bombs mentioned in the article. Both the bomblets contained by cluster bombs & mortar bombs have tailfins like the munition in the photo. A photo of the nose would quickly resolve the dispute but, obviously, be dangerous to obtain.

by: Anonymous
March 04, 2013 10:43 PM
Cluster bombs have been used by the Assad regime on its own people all over Syria. Bashar is the biggest criminal of Syria. Justice MUST be followed through for Mr Assad. The ICC needs to butt in and make him face the consequences, if the FSA doesn't kill him first.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs