Saudi coalition using cluster bombs
Dubai (AFP) - The Saudi-led coalition bombing rebels in Yemen has been using US-supplied cluster munitions in its air campaign, Human Rights Watch said Sunday, warning of the long-term dangers to civilians.
The widely banned bombs contain dozens of submunitions, which sometimes do not explode, becoming de facto landmines that can kill or maim long after they were dropped.
Washington defended its transfers of cluster munitions, saying they were subjected to stringent requirements.
"Recipients of such transfers must commit that cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians," a US Defense Department official told AFP.
"This is obviously a critical element of the policy."
HRW said it had gathered photographs, video and other evidence indicating that cluster munitions had been used in coalition air strikes against the Huthi rebel stronghold of Saada province in Yemen's northern mountains in recent weeks.
It said that analysis of satellite imagery suggested that the weapons had landed on a cultivated plateau, within 600 metres (yards) of populated areas.