BEIRUT - Syrian government forces have dropped Russian-made cluster bombs over civilian areas in the past week as they battle to push back rebel gains, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.
The bombs were dropped from planes and helicopters, with many of the strikes taking place near the main north-south highway running through the northwestern town of Maarat al-Numan, HRW said in a report.
Rebels seized Maarat al-Numan from President Bashar Assad's troops last week, cutting the route from the capital Damascus to Aleppo, Syria's biggest city. Government forces have been trying to retake the area since then.
HRW previously reported Syrian use of cluster bombs, which have been banned by most countries, in July and August but the renewed strikes indicate the government's determination to regain strategic control in the northwest.