Armenia, Azerbaijan using prohibited cluster bombs in Karabakh conflict zone – HRW and Amnesty International
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have confirmed that both the Armenian and Azerbaijani military are using banned cluster bombs against civilians in the new round of the Karabakh conflict, which began on September 27, 2020.
Armenian military using cluster bombs in Azerbaijan
Amnesty International has confirmed for the first time that Armenia used prohibited cluster bombs during the shelling of the city of Barda in Azerbaijan on October 28.
According to Amnesty International, one or more Smerch rockets were fired at Barda, hitting a residential area near the hospital.
The General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan stated that at least 21 people were killed and about 70 were injured.
Amnesty International experts checked photographs taken by Vice News correspondents in the city showing fragments of 9N235 cluster munitions from Russian 9M55 Smerch missiles, “which were apparently fired at the city by Armenian forces.”
“Firing cluster munitions in civilian areas is brutal and reckless, and results in untold death, injury and suffering,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The same data was confirmed by experts from the Human Rights Watch organization.
“Smerch with cluster munition and a high-explosive fragmentation missile with parachute deceleration were identified. As far as HRW knows, the Armenian armed forces have Smerch multi-barreled missile launchers, while the Nagorno-Karabakh forces do not. Hence, it is likely that Armenian forces carried out an attack or delivered ammunition to the Nagorno-Karabakh forces.
Armenia should immediately stop using cluster munitions or their supply to the forces of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the organization’s report says.
“These brutal weapons are prohibited by international law and their use in the city center is a flagrant disregard for human life and international law,” said Belkis Ville, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch.
Azerbaijani military also using cluster bombs in Karabakh
A few days earlier, on October 23, 2020, Human Rights Watch announced the repeated use of cluster bombs by Azerbaijan in residential areas of Nagorno-Karabakh.
During the onsite investigation, HRW documented four incidents involving cluster munitions.
“The continued use of cluster munitions, especially in densely populated areas, demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the safety of civilians,” said Stephen Goose, director of weapons at Human Rights Watch and chairman of the Cluster Munitions Coalition.
“Cluster munitions should under no circumstances be used by anyone, especially in cities, because of the predictable and unacceptable damage to the civilian population”, he added.