Syria Said to Be Using Powerful Type of Cluster Munitions

Human Rights Watch says particularly deadly rockets are 'threatening Syrians for generations to come.'

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Syrian government forces are using a powerful type of cluster munitions that have not previously been seen in the conflict, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

Evidence indicates government forces used rockets containing the munitions in attacks on the northern Syrian town of Keferzita, north of Hama, last week, the group said. It said the particularly deadly rockets are causing civilian casualties.

"Cluster bombs are killing Syrian civilians now and threatening Syrians for generations to come," said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch.

Unexploded ordnance poses a serious risk to civilians.

At least one person was killed when four of the rockets hit Keferzita last Wednesday and Thursday, a witness told Human Rights Watch.

"The second rocket exploded halfway through in the air and released bomblets that injured people including women and children and killed one internally displaced person from nearby Mourik village," the witness said. "The only infrastructure damage caused was from the shrapnel. I remember seeing at least 10 injured but I was told that it was much more. I only saw injuries from shrapnel but I didn’t see any amputations."

Photographs of rocket remnants provided to Human Rights Watch by local activists who said they took them after the attack show sections of a 9M55K 300mm surface-to-surface rocket.
According to its manufacturer, the BM-30 Smerch can launch the Soviet-produced rockets from a minimum range of 20 kilometers to a maximum range of 70 kilometers.

Fighting in Syria near the border with Israel. Credit: Gil Eliyahu

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