Russia is accused of using cluster bombs in Syria, based on several eyewitness reports from locals, who also recorded the aerial bombardment. The accusations have emerged when a video was uploaded reportedly showing munition dropped from an alleged Russian aircraft, which quickly resulted in several detonations above ground.
Another video showed similar patterns during the Russian bombing of the Jabhat al-Nusra camp near Kafr Halab. The video purports to show the same type of smoke, consistent with the use of cluster munition, as a result of the airstrikes carried out against the terrorist group.
Russia is accused of using cluster bombs in Syria also as a result of an unexploded munition allegedly found after the Kafr Halab attack.
The use of cluster bombs is prohibited under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty, which entered effect on August 2010. As of the current date, the treaty has been ratified by 30 states and comprises 108 signatories.
Based on the Convention, the use of cluster bombs is considered a war crime under international protocol. This is in large part due to the potential hazard it can post to civilian populations. Cluster attacks scatter several submunitions over the affected area in an uncontainable manner, which in most cases affect several individual targets indiscriminately.
However, in the case of the alleged Kafr Haleb attack, the aerial bombardment was carried out against insurgents of the Nusra Front, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council and 11 countries, including the US and Russia. Nonetheless, under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the prohibition applies under all circumstances.
There have been earlier speculations that Nusra Front has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, which is now directly targeted by Russian warplanes in large parts of Syria. On September 30, the Moscow government has started its military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, ongoing for more than four years.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the purpose of the airstrikes is to combat ISIS militants and stop their territorial expansion in the country. The Russian President believes the international coalition, led by the US, has failed to stop the terror network’s expansion and that no other option was available.
However, detractors of the Kremlin have pointed out that the airstrikes also target rebel groups aiming to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is an ally of Iran and Russia. Such allegations have led to mounting tension with the US, which is yet to respond on accusations against the Russian government on the use of cluster munition.
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