Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Syria: Fuel-Air Bombs Strike School

Powerful Conventional Weapon Kills at Least 12 Students in Raqqa

"(New York ) – A Syrian government airstrike using fuel-air explosive bombs hit outside a secondary school in the opposition-held city of Raqqa on September 29, 2013, killing at least 14 civilians. At least 12 of those killed were students attending their first day of classes.

A Raqqa resident who went to the school immediately after the attack told Human Rights Watch that he saw 14 bodies, including some without limbs. A doctor from National Hospital in Raqqa said he saw 12 dead bodies, most of them students, and the hospital treated 25 wounded.

The blast wounds and flash burns visible on victims in videos and photographs, coupled with the body positions and few shrapnel wounds, indicates the use of fuel-air explosives (FAE), also known as “vacuum bombs,” Human Rights Watch said. More powerful than conventional high-explosive munitions of comparable size, fuel-air explosives inflict extensive damage over a wide area, and are therefore prone to indiscriminate impact in populated areas.

“While the world tries to bring Syria’s chemical weapons under control, government forces are killing civilians with other extremely powerful weapons,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, Middle East child rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Even students on their first day of school are not safe.”

Fuel-air explosive bombs are not an incendiary or chemical weapon. But because of their wide area effects, which make them highly indiscriminate weapons, Human Rights Watch believes fuel-air explosives should never be used in populated areas...."

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