Yemen: Coalition Drops Cluster Bombs in Capital - Indiscriminate Weapon Used in Residential Areas
Human Rights Watch
7 January 2016
(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces airdropped cluster bombs on residential neighborhoods in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, early on January 6, 2016. It is not yet clear whether the attacks caused civilian casualties, but the inherently indiscriminate nature of cluster munitions makes such attacks serious violations of the laws of war. The deliberate or reckless use of cluster munitions in populated areas amounts to a war crime.
“The coalition’s repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war’s horrors.”
Residents of two Sanaa neighborhoods described aerial attacks consistent with cluster bomb use. A resident of al-Zira`a Street told Human Rights Watch that his family was awakened at 5:30 a.m. on January 6 by dozens of small explosions. He said that he had been at work, but that his wife told him that when the family fled they saw many homes and a local kindergarten with newly pockmarked walls and broken windows.
A resident of Hayal Sayeed, another residential neighborhood, described hearing small explosions at around 6 a.m. He went out on the street, he said, and saw more than 20 vehicles covered in pockmarks, including his own, as well as dozens of pockmarks in the road. He said that at least three houses in the area had pockmarked walls and broken windows. He found a fragment in his car, he said.
In 2015, Human Rights Watch documented the use by coalition forces of three types of cluster munitions in Yemen. Amnesty International documented the coalition’s use of a fourth type. A fifth type of cluster munition has been used, but the user’s identity is unclear. A US Defense Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told U.S. News and World Report in August that “the U.S. is aware that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in Yemen.”