Campaign calls on U.S. to reject use of cluster bombs in Syrian military actions

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs called on the U.S. on Thursday to refrain from using any type of cluster munition in potential military actions in Syria.

According to recent news reports, several U.S. officials said Syria strike plans include the use of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched by the U.S. Navy. One Tomahawk model has the capacity for a weapons payload of 166 BLU-97 cluster submunitions.

"Cluster bombs indiscriminately kill and maim innocent civilians-the same civilians the U.S. is trying to protect," Zach Hudson, the coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs, said. "Regardless of whether you support or oppose U.S. intervention in Syria, cluster bombs simply should not be used. Their humanitarian toll far outweighs any military utility."

The last reported use of a cluster munition by the U.S. was in December 2009 in Yemen. The strike killed at least 41 civilians and at least four more civilians were killed by unexploded bomblets after the attack.

"The United States has condemned cluster munitions use by other countries like Syria," said Hudson. "It would be entirely hypocritical for the administration to now use this weapon."

The campaign also supports the international Cluster Munition Coalition in its call on the 112 countries that joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions to make sure such weapons are not used by the U.S. in Syria. The U.S. is not one of the States Parties to the convention.

"Cluster munitions used by the Syrian regime have already caused numerous civilian casualties as they have done in every other conflict in which they have been used," Sarah Blakemore, the director of the CMC, said. "It makes absolutely no sense to use banned weapons to retaliate for the use of another banned weapon."

Cluster bombs are large weapons deployed from the air by aircraft. The bombs open in mid-air and release dozens or hundreds of small submunitions.

The U.S. plans to no longer use cluster munitions resulting in more than one percent unexploded ordnance by the end of 2018. The BLU-97 bomblet does not meet the criteria of less than one percent failure rate.

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