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former IAEA Director-General

Cluster Munitions Used in Syria, Yemen
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April 2017

Military forces in Syria and Yemen continue to use inter-nationally banned cluster munitions, according to international investigators. Aleppo is “contaminated with significant quantities of unexploded ordnance” from cluster munitions used during the Syrian-Russian joint offensive to retake governmental control of the city in 2016, according to a March 14 report by an investigative body established by the UN Human Rights Council.

In Yemen, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch cited continued cluster munition use by the Saudi-led military coalition, documenting at least four civilians were injured by Brazilian-made cluster munitions during separate attacks in February that hit residential areas and farmland. Despite U.S. efforts to convince the Saudi government to improve its conduct in Yemen, “we get flooded with reports” that they are “not getting better,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing March 9. In December 2016, a coalition spokesperson said it would stop using UK-made BL-755 cluster munitions, which had been supplied before London joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in 2008. In May 2016, the United States suspended cluster munitions transfers to the Saudis.

Last year, CCM states-parties condemned any cluster munition use, specifically mentioning Syria and Yemen. (See ACT, October 2016.) Although Brazil, Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and many other Middle Eastern countries are not party to the convention, the treaty has 100 states-parties and does establish international law banning the use of the weapons. There is no evidence of U.S. use of cluster munitions in its recent operations in Syria or Yemen.

Posted: March 31, 2017