(part of The Darkness Visible series)
(Cluster Bombs Don't Just Kill Militants)
Over the past six months there have been 119 locations where cluster bombs have been verified to have been used against the civilian population within Syria. 156 known cluster munitions have been verified to have struck and/or have been targeted against civilians. This means that in those 119 locations, Syria's government has used multiple cluster munitions on the same location. And with each and every attack there has been children like the one above either killed, wounded, and physically and emotionally scarred by the heartless brutality of these indiscriminate attacks.
Human Rights watch has identified two such attacks in just the past two weeks. Between the two cluster bombs dropped there were 11 civilians killed (of which were two women and five children) and 27 others wounded. It is important to note that these were just the results of two cluster bombs.
As of March 5th the world was given evidence of new cluster bombs entering the conflict. These Soviet made weapons were not known to have been used prior to this attack. A fact that points to the continued support of the Assad regime by the Russian government. It also points to the fact that Assad is expanding his ruthless campaign of slaughtering civilians while he pretends to be looking for a "peaceful resolution".
(Russian Made, Assad Approved)
The ShOAB 0.5 is a weapon that is not only old but has been proven to be both deadly upon impact and a prolonged killer upon the battle field. Not only does it spread out over a large area when dropped but many of the little grenade like bombs are left unexploded. This means that they can detonate at any time and kill those trying to save wounded or clear out the initial fatalities. It also means that they pose the same risk as landmines once the battle is over or the war has ended.
In the past Assad has used cluster bombs ahead of military or Shabiha militias to clear the way for his troops. Now Assad appears to be carpet bombing areas simply to drive the death toll upward. At times it doesn't even seem that the Syrian army needs to have any indication that rebels are in the area for them to justify the use of weapons like cluster munitions. All that is apparently needed is for the military to believe that the local citizens at one time supported the rebel cause.
For the children of Syria this "death from above" method has left them seeking more creative ways to hide. In the past they had been able to hide in their homes from the government militias and military forces. By simply staying indoors when the shelling began or the gunfire grew louder they could at least pray for protection. Yet cluster munitions void that strategy. With cluster munitions, if the neighbor is suspected of a crime... so are you.
I have said over the past two years that I believe Assad will only get more violent as the war goes on. Cluster munitions are just one way he is proving me to be correct in my assumptions of him. If these weapons are not stopped and Assad is not given limits to his madness... what kind of new hell will he unleash next?