NEW YORK TIMES
Thursday, November 6, 2008
MOSCOW — Georgian military forces fired more cluster munitions during their war with Russia in August than originally thought, and some of the weapons may have malfunctioned, causing civilian casualties when they fell short of military targets and hit Georgian villages, according to new research by Human Rights Watch.
The group said Tuesday that Georgia and Russia used cluster munitions extensively in the war, which began when Georgia launched a major artillery strike against South Ossetia, a breakaway Georgian enclave, prompting Russia to invade large swaths of Georgian territory.
Though Russia endured the brunt of international outrage for its conduct during and after the war, Georgia’s actions in the conflict have come under increasing scrutiny. While Georgia has strongly denied the findings, the new Human Rights Watch report, which was presented at the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva on Tuesday, adds to a growing body of evidence of Georgian atrocities in the fighting.
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Cluster bombs, typically anti-personnel weapons that eject dozens of explosive bomblets when detonated, killed as many as 17 civilians during the brief, bloody war and wounded dozens more, Human Rights Watch said in a statement. In addition, many of the weapons on both sides failed, the statement said, scattering unexploded ordnance that has already caused casualties and poses a danger to civilians.
In several Georgian villages, researchers from Human Rights Watch found wreckage from Israeli-supplied rockets with bomblets that had been used by Georgia, suggesting a “massive technical failure,” the report said. They were used in strikes and killed at least one civilian and wounded two in fighting in the Georgian towns of Tirdznisi and Shindisi.
This article was posted: Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 11:03 am