‘Why is the world doing nothing?’ – cluster bomb attack by the Syrian army in Aleppo

One of many children in a field hospital in Aleppo after sustaining injuries in a cluster bomb attack by the Syrian air force. © Amnesty International

By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Adviser

In a field hospital, which I won’t name for security reasons – too many field hospitals have been bombed already – a little boy of 7, Abdo al-Dik, was shaking like a leaf and moaning in pain with deep lacerations to his abdomen and legs.

Relatives had just collected his 3-year-old brother Nizar’s body for burial. Another brother, 8-year-old Subhi, was still missing as of 6pm.

In the same hospital room, 6-year-old Mustafa Ali was lying in a bed with shrapnel injuries to the head, neck and shoulders – alone and waiting for someone from his family to come find him. He told me that he was visiting his relatives when the air strike happened; a neighbour said that the child’s relatives were badly injured and he did not know whether they had survived.

In another room, Fahad, a 9-year-old boy with a nasty shrapnel injury to his left leg, kept repeating: “Baba (Father), I don’t want to die, I want to go home”. He was lucky though as his injury was relatively minor, compared to those of the other children I saw.

These children are some of the victims of a multiple cluster bomb attack launched on the morning of Friday 1 March against a densely populated residential housing estate in Aleppo.

The attack killed at least 19 and injured more than 60 – we won’t know the final death and injury toll for some days, as some families fled the area for fear of further attacks. The more seriously injured were evacuated to hospitals in Turkey and the rest are being treated in various field hospitals around the city. Many of the victims were children who were playing in the alleys and gardens of the housing estate.

The attack took place at about 11.30am. I arrived in Aleppo shortly after and went to the area – the Masaken Hanano district, to the east of the city centre. It was much worse than initial reports suggested.

The Syrian air force dropped cluster bombs in a densely populated residential area © Amnesty International

The Syrian air force dropped nine Soviet-made RBK cluster bombs – each carrying up to 150 cluster submunitions – in the middle of a large housing estate. I found one bomb eight metres from the front door of one of the buildings; three in a small garden between the buildings; one on a rooftop; two in a small empty space between the buildings; one in the middle of an alley; and one in another garden.

I also found unexploded cluster submunitions (bomblets) all over the place: on the roofs of buildings; on the pavements and in the alleys and gardens between the buildings. Members of armed opposition groups who control the area rapidly filled a sack with the unexploded bomblets that were left lying around. The buildings’ walls were peppered with shrapnel, and here and there are holes where the lethal bomblets penetrated the walls, exploding inside people’s homes.

Noura, a 20-year-old woman I found in one of the hospitals, told me that she was injured in her apartment. Her sister who was by her side asked me: “Why is the world doing nothing while we continue to be bombed to pieces every day, even inside our homes?”

I had no answer.

Whoever orders these relentless indiscriminate attacks – including with internationally banned cluster bombs – and the pilots who drop these bombs do so knowing that they will kill and maim children and other civilians who have nothing to do with the conflict.

They should know too that one day they will be held accountable for such war crimes.

Read more:

From ‘Days of Rage’ to raging conflict – Two years of turmoil in Syria (Wire magazine feature, March/April 2013)
Syria: New evidence – High civilian death toll from campaign of indiscriminate attacks (News story/report, 19 September 2012)
Syria: Fresh evidence of armed forces’ ongoing crimes against humanity (News story/report, 13 June 2012)

Posted in Children, Control Arms, Middle East And North Africa, Syria | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

  1. Loraine says:

    so who ordered the attacks? this is murder outright. and who will investigate? murders get investigated right?

    • Ethan says:

      The ICC has already begun preliminary investigations into war crimes by the Assad regime and I believe that the future transitional government of Syria will investigate on their own.

  2. Angelo Vullo says:

    Cluster bombs??? Weren’t they banned by UN in the year 2011?

    • Conor Fortune says:

      Angelo Vullo – The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on 1 August 2010, and prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of these indiscriminate weapons. So far 111 countries have signed or ratified the treaty, and Amnesty International urges all countries to join.

  3. bob says:

    111 countries not including the USA which continues to stockpile them illegally and use them secretly with impunity, and sell them to other non-signatories for future use.
    If you include the USA in that world its probably best they stay out of it.

  4. Ethan says:

    After al-Assad is ousted I hope that the transitional Syrian government wrangles up all of these Syrian military officials and put them to death much like Iraq did with Saddam. I dont care if Amnesty doesn’t agree with the death penalty but if anyone deserves that punishment its al-Assad and his military commanders.

    • angela smith says:

      Oh my goodness you people are psychopaths. You are callling for the deaths of other Human beings as if their lives dont matter, how gross the level of mind is that you are operating. No sensitivity, just brutish sub-human apes. The ‘World’ as the CIA Donatella fancy pants rover likes to call it, is made better or worse by individual actions. Your actions are abominable you evil piece of garbage!

  5. vinay pandey says:

    syria war is in very bad situation, where is U.N., vinay pandey, advocate/humanright activist, india

    • Ethan says:

      They dont want to help for a good reason. Both sides on this war have terrorists fighting for them. The Syrian government has the Iranian National Guard and the Syrian soldiers and the opposition has al-Nusra and al-Qaeda. I say if they dont want peace let them fight.

  6. adelhaddad says:

    الى متى سيبقى الهجومعلى اطفال وشعب سوريا لماذا مات الضمير العالمي تجاه حقوق السوريين

  7. rescueitalia says:

    terrible. stop the syrian’s massacre

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