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Syria cluster bombs pose grave risk to children, Human Rights Watch says (VIDEO)

Human Rights Watch says Syria's cluster bombs can be deadly to civilians long after war ends.

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A Syrian man shows the tailfin of what Human Rights Watch says is a cluster bomb. (Human Rights Watch/Screengrab)

Human Rights Watch says the Syrian government is dropping deadly cluster bombs on civilians, a weapon banned in 77 countries.

The New York-based organization said activists are posting online video evidence of the weapons.

They say the Syrian Air Force has used the weapons in the major conflict areas including a highway through Ma’arat al-Nu’man, where rebels and government troops battled for control of military installments last week.

They’ve also seen cluster bomb evidence in the restive province of Idlib, Homs, Aleppo and near Damascus.

“Syria’s disregard for its civilian population is all too evident in its air campaign, which now apparently includes dropping these deadly cluster bombs into populated areas,” HRW arms director Steve Goose said on the group’s website.

“Cluster bombs have been comprehensively banned by most nations, and Syria should immediately stop all use of these indiscriminate weapons that continue to kill and maim for years.”

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Cluster bombs are banned because they tend to kill or maim civilians long after they’ve been dropped, The Associated Press said.

The bombs fragment in the air and cover wide areas, or they can sit dormant until someone steps on them, the AP said.

Syria is not one of the 77 countries that signed the covenant against cluster bombs, BBC said.

According to Reuters, the bombs are Russian made and HRW reported the Syrian government used them this summer.

That they have appeared again shows renewed efforts from the Syrian government to gain control against rebels, according to Reuters.

HRW said activists have posted about 18 YouTube videos showing the aftermath of recent cluster bomb strikes; the organization can’t say how many casualties the bombs have caused.

The group said residents don’t know what dangers the bombs pose, and that some are filming children holding “bomblets” as souvenirs.

“The cluster munition strikes and unexploded ordnance they leave behind pose a huge danger to civilian populations, who often seem unaware how easily these submunitions could still explode.” Goose said.

“There is an urgent need for the government to facilitate risk education and emergency clearance efforts.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/121014/syria-cluster-bombs-human-rights-watch-video