Kremlin-sponsored outlet RT just provided the most damning evidence that Russia uses deadly cluster bombs against civilian targets in Syria.
While airing a video clip of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Khmeimim Air Base in Syria June 18, RT cut to a shot of a Russian airman inspecting the munitions on a Russian fighter jet. Two of those munitions were cluster bombs clearly marked “RBK-500 ZAB 2.5SM.”
A must read for anyone talking about the use of incendiary munitions by the Russian air force in Syria https://t.co/YRl2Uif5qI
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) June 22, 2016
The RBK-500 ZAB 2.5M, or single-use cassette bomb, is a standard Russian cluster munition used by many Russian aircraft. A single RBK can weigh anywhere between 827 and 1,103 pounds depending on the variant. The bomb seen in the video clip is believed to be an incendiary variant.
Cluster munitions are extremely deadly anti-personnel weapons. When dropped, a cluster bomb opens up mid-air, releasing several smaller munitions across a target area. You can see some examples of cluster munitions in action against targets in Syria below.
The U.S. non-governmental agency Amnesty International accused Russia of using cluster munitions against civilians shortly after the country began its military campaign in Syria. Unsurprisingly, Moscow has continually denied the accusations.
It was not long until RT caught on to its mistake, redacting the cluster bomb shot in subsequent broadcasts, according to the Conflict Intelligence Team, a research group that analyzes open-source intelligence.
The cluster bomb video evidence comes just weeks after Russia’s military was accused of intentionally attacking several civilian health buildings, including a hospital, in the Syrian city of Idlib. The attack reportedly killed or injured approximately 250 people.
Recent estimates claim that as many as 400,000 people have died in the now five-year-old Syrian conflict, most of whom are suspected to be civilians. In response to the Obama administration’s lethargic policy regarding the conflict, 50 U.S. diplomats sent a memo to the administration last week, urging the president to take military action to prevent further civilian casualties.
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