26 Nov 2012

Syrian activists say cluster bombs killed children

10:04 pm on 26 November 2012

Opposition activists in Syria say a regime air strike on a rebel-held village near Damascus killed 10 children as they played outdoors on Sunday.

Unverified video footage from activists shows residents collecting young bodies torn by shrapnel, Reuters reports.

Activists and residents say the children went out after a lull in fighting in Deir al-Asafir, a village 12km east of Damascus, when fighter jets struck,

One activist, Abu Kassem, says munitions dropped by the fighter jets were cluster bombs.

Other footage showed a row of what appeared to be unexploded small bombs.

"We collected 70 of these so far," one man said.

Bodies shown

Reuters say the video footage showed the bodies of two young girls, one wearing purple, the other red, on the street in the village, with wounds to their neck and head. A sobbing woman picked up one of the girls up and hugged her lifeless body.

Another two dead boys, hit in the head and face, were shown on the back seat of a car. Men picked up the bodies of two other children while a larger body lay next to the front wheel of a vehicle.

"None of those killed were older than 15 years old. There are two women among 15 people wounded, mostly hit as they were inside the courtyards of their houses," Abu Kassem told Reuters.

"There were no fighters inside Deir al-Asafir when the bombing occurred. They operate on the outskirts. This was indiscriminate bombing," he says.

Syria has barred most reporters from the country, making it hard to verify the report.

Syrian authorities made no comment on the report, but official media have said the army has been on the offensive to "cleanse" the area of what the government calls terrorists.

Earlier this month, the United Nations political affairs chief told the Security Council of credible reports that the Syrian military has used cluster bombs in fighting the 20-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's autocratic rule, Reuters reports.

The Syrian army has denied a Human Rights Watch report issued in October that Assad's forces have used cluster bombs, saying it did not possess such weapons.

Cluster bombs are banned under a 2010 UN treaty although Syria - like Israel, Russia and the United States - ave not signed the pact.