Evidence of New Cluster Bomb Use

From Human Rights Watch.

There is credible evidence of the use of banned cluster bombs in at least two locations in Libya since December 2014.

Phone interviews with witnesses and photographic evidence reviewed by Human Rights Watch indicate that remnants of RBK-250 PTAB 2.5M cluster bombs were found at Bin Jawad in February 2015 and at Sirte in March.

The good condition of the paint on the bomb casings and lack of extensive weathering indicated that the remnants had not been exposed to the environment for long and were from a recent attack. The Libyan Air Force recently bombed both locations, but denied using cluster munitions. It is not possible to determine responsibility on the basis of available evidence.

“The new evidence of cluster munitions use in Libya is highly disturbing,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition. “Libyan authorities should investigate these incidents and make sure its forces don’t use cluster munitions.”

Hostilities since May 2014 have left Libya with rival governments: an internationally recognized government based in the east, and a self-proclaimed government in Tripoli backed by an alliance of militias known as Libya Dawn that controls much of western Libya. Both claim legitimacy as the sole political authority, but neither has been able to exert full control nationally.

On March 11, Human Rights Watch spoke by phone with Brig. Gen. Saqr al-Jerroushi, commander of the Libyan Air Force of the internationally recognized government. Brig. Gen. Al-Jerroushi acknowledged that his forces had carried out air strikes in February and March in Ben Jawad and Sirte as well as in Watiya, among other locations, but denied that forces under his command used cluster bombs in any of the reported air strike locations.

Al-Jerroushi said the Air Force had no access to cluster bombs. “While the airstrikes continue every day against militias, the Libyan Army has access to only traditional, heavy munitions such as what was used during the Second World War,” he said. “We have no cluster munitions.”

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