Syrian opposition accuses Russia of using incendiary bombs

Main Syrian opposition group calls for UN probe of alleged Russian strikes using substances that are designed to set fire to objects or burn people.

June 24, 2016 01:40
1 minute read.

MiG-29 jet fighters of the Russian aerobatic team Strizhi (The Swifts) perform during the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia, August 30, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)

UNITED NATIONS - The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) called on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday to launch an investigation into its accusations that Russia has repeatedly used air-delivered incendiary weapons in Syria.

Russia deployed warplanes to Syria last year to support President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to end his rule. A crackdown by Assad on pro-democracy protesters five years ago sparked a civil war and Islamic State militants have used the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq.

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"Russian air forces have repeatedly deployed incendiary weapons and cluster munitions to kill, main and terrorize Syrian civilians, including in at least 10 documented incidents," Riad Hijab, coordinator of the opposition HNC, wrote to Ban.

"They have violated the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and breached international humanitarian law," he wrote.

Hijab alleged that "thermite, which ignites while falling, has been likened to 'mini nuclear bombs' and was deployed repeatedly by Russian forces in residential areas." He also accused Russian forces of using cluster munitions.

Incendiary weapons use substances that are designed to set fire to objects or burn people, and cluster munitions are containers that explode in the air to distribute smaller bombs over a large area. Both are banned under the convention.

The Russian mission to the United Nations was not immediately available to comment on the accusations. Ban's office was also not immediately available to comment on the request for an investigation.

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