Assad regime 'still using Russian-made incendiary weapons'

Assad regime 'still using Russian-made incendiary weapons'
The international community must condemn Assad's use of incendiary weapons in civilian areas, says HRW's arms division.
2 min read
13 April, 2017
Syria's war has killed more than 320,000 people [AFP]
The Assad regime continues to use Russian-made incendiary weapons in civilian areas, despite being prohibited under The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

The latest use of such weapons occurred last weekend in the city of Saraqeb in northwest Syria. Videos and photographs show bright trails produced by the incendiary weapons, containing thermite – a highly flammable substance which burns intensely at high temperatures.

The attack took place near Khan Sheikhun, where a Syrian regime-sanctioned chemical attack killed up to 87 people.

Other videos posted online allegedly show incendiary weapons used on April 8 in the nearby villages of Latameh and Maaret Hurmah

"The best course of action for other countries concerned about civilian harm in Syria is to condemn such use of incendiary weapons and embrace the relevant international law," Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director of the Arms Division in HRW, said.

Incendiary weapons were used almost every day in attacks on opposition-held areas in mid-2016.

Syria is not a signatory to The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and has used Russian or Soviet-made incendiary weapons since 2012, burning homes to the ground and causing civilian deaths.

Russia is party to the protocol and since 2015 regularly conducts joint air operations with Assad's forces.

The international community must press for the "enforcement by Russia of the protocol in Syria," Wareham added.

Syria's war has killed more than 320,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

International rights organisations say the brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians, amount to war crimes.