Thursday, January 31, 2013

Egypt's cluster bombs allegedly used by Syrian regime

Daily News Egypt

Egyptian cluster bombs allegedly used in Syria

January 14, 2013

Basil El-Dabh 

HRW publishes report saying cluster munitions produced in Egypt have been used on Syrian rebels by Assad’s forces

Government forces in Syria are using cluster bombs manufactured in Egypt in its civil war, claims Human Rights Watch (HRW). In a report on Monday, HRW claimed that Syrian forces had used cluster munitions near the city of Idlib in December and in the town of Latamneh on 3 January.

Some of the found cluster munitions were reportedly labeled with the Arab Organisation for Industrialization (AOI), a state-owned venture, and the Sakr Factory for Development Industries.
AOI produces a long line of military vehicles and arms including rockets, missiles, armoured vehicles and aircraft parts.

HRW said the Egyptian-made arms were 122mm munition rockets. Each rocket contains Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) submunitions. These type of cluster bombs are both used for antipersonnel and anti-vehicle purposes.

Cluster munitions are explosive weapons that eject smaller submunitions or bomblets when they near their targets. They pose a significant risk to civilian populations due to the wide area affected by the bomblets.

Due to the urban settings in which much of the Syrian conflict has taken place, cluster munitions risk hitting not just rebel targets but the surrounding housing and civilians in the area.

Due to their indiscriminate nature the use of cluster munitions during armed conflict is controversial in the international community. The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which prohibits the use, transfer, or stockpile of cluster bombs, is observed by 111 countries.

Egypt has neither signed nor ratified the convention. The only countries in MENA that agreed to adopt the convention in 2008 were Bahrain, Lebanon, Morocco and Qatar.

Egypt is one of 35 countries that produce cluster munitions and one of 86 countries that stockpile them. 

According to the Cluster Munition Coalition, Egypt and Israel are the only countries in the region that have exported cluster munitions. Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Israel have produced cluster munitions, while many more countries in the MENA region import and stockpile them, including Syria. Egypt also imports cluster munitions from the United States.

HRW condemned President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces for using cluster bombs, especially in heavily-populated areas where they are most likely to injure and kill civilians.


*Photo courtesy of AFP/ JOHN MACDOUGALL

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