MISURATA, Libya -- Military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who have surrounded this city and vowed to crush its anti-Qaddafi rebellion, have been firing into residential neighborhoods with heavy weapons, including cluster bombs that have been banned by much of the world and ground-to-ground rockets, according to the accounts of witnesses and survivors and physical evidence on the ground.Eyewitness video report on the use of cluster bombs in Misrata:
Such "indiscriminate" weapons, which strike large areas with a dense succession of high-explosive munitions, by their nature cannot be fired precisely, and when fired into populated areas place civilians at grave risk.
The use of such weapons could add urgency to the arguments by Britain and France that NATO needs to step up air attacks on the Qaddafi forces, to better fulfill the United Nations mandate to protect civilians. And it could place pressure on the United States, which pulled back air power from the war when it ceded control of the campaign to NATO earlier this month.........
The cluster munitions were visible in use late Thursday night, in the form of what appeared to be 120-millimeter mortar rounds that burst in the air over the city, scattering high-explosive bomblets below.
Remnants of expended shells, examined and photographed by The New York Times , show the rounds to be MAT-120 cargo mortar projectiles, each of which carries and distributes 21 smaller submunitions designed both to kill people and penetrate light armor.
Components from the 120-millimeter rounds, according to their markings, were manufactured in Spain in 2007 -- one year before Spain signed the international Convention on Cluster Munitions and pledged to destroy its stocks. Libya is not a signatory to the convention, and neither is the United States, which used the weapons in Iraq, Afghanistan and, in 2010, Yemen. The Spanish Defense Ministry had no immediate comment.
Human Rights Watch, the New York based advocacy group, verified the use of the cluster munitions as well, and swiftly called on the Qaddafi government to stop using them.
"It's unconscionable that Libya is using these indiscriminate weapons, especially in civilian populated areas," said Steve Goose, director of the organization's arms division. "Cluster munitions are inaccurate and unreliable weapons that by their very nature pose unacceptable dangers to civilians." (SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE)
Here is an interview with the spokesman for the Human Rights Watch team that actually went into Misrata to investigate and even witness the use of cluster bombs:
It has been a brutal week for Misrata at the hands of Gaddafi forces, yesterday and today especially, with scores of rockets and shells raining down on the city, not to mention heavy tank-fire within the city. And now we know that the ordnance includes cluster bombs, a threat not only today to civilians as they explode in their neighborhoods, but tomorrow as those that didn't explode lay about as de facto landmines:
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