Saudi-led Forces Indiscriminately Airdrop Cluster Bombs on Yemen’s Capital, Sanaa
Posted by feww on January 7, 2016
Deliberate or reckless use of cluster bombs in populated areas is a war crime: HRW
Saudi-led coalition forces airdropped cluster bombs on residential neighborhoods in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, early on January 6, 2016, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“It is not yet clear whether the attacks caused civilian casualties, but the inherently indiscriminate nature of cluster munitions makes such attacks serious violations of the laws of war. The deliberate or reckless use of cluster munitions in populated areas amounts to a war crime.”
“The coalition’s repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war’s horrors.”
Description of the aerial attacks provided by the residents of two Sanaa neighborhoods are consistent with cluster munition use, said HRW.
HRW has identified several types of the munitions including US-made BLU-63 antipersonnel/anti-materiel submunitions and components of a CBU-58 cluster bomb, manufactured in 1978 at the Milan Army Ammunition Plant in the state of Tennessee, CBU-58 cluster bombs, which contains 650 submunitions (U.S. transferred 1,000 CBU-58 bombs to Saudi Arabia sometime between 1970 and 1995).
The CBU-58 cluster bomb and BLU-63 submunition were developed by the US during the Vietnam War and are designed to attack personnel and lightly protected materiel. The submunitions also contain 5-gram titanium pellets that produce an incendiary effect on flammable targets.
Five different types of cluster munitions have been used in Yemen, four of them by the Saudis, and one by as yet an unknown source, according to HRW and Amnesty International.
The US is a party to the armed conflict in Yemen, playing a direct role in coordinating military operations, and as such, is obligated to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war in which its forces took part.
A US Defense Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told U.S. News and World Report in August that “the U.S. is aware that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in Yemen.”
The US Defense Department announced in November that “the State Department had approved a sale of US$1.29 billion worth of air-to-ground munitions, such as laser-guided bombs and ‘general purpose’ bombs with guidance systems – none of which are cluster munitions. The US should not sell aerial bombs to Saudi Arabia in the absence of serious investigations into alleged laws-of-war violations in Yemen,” HRW said.
HRW has called on the UN Human Rights Council to create an independent, international inquiry into alleged war crimes in Yemen by “all sides.”
“It may have been 20 years since the US last provided cluster munitions to the Saudis, but they are being used to kill civilians now,” Goose said. “The US, as a party to the conflict, should be demanding that the coalition immediately stop using these weapons or risk becoming complicit in their use.”