Did Syria drop cluster bombs on a playground near Damascus?
Syrian jets hit a playground outside of Damascus with cluster bombs, killing 10 children, according to Syrian opposition activists. A video purports to show the carnage. Syria denies that it uses cluster bombs.
Amman, Jordan — A Syrian government air strike on a rebel-held village near Damascus killed 10 children on Sunday as they played outdoors, opposition activists said, and video footage showed residents collecting young bodies torn by shrapnel.
The children went out after a lull in fighting in Deir al-Asafir, a village 12 km (8 miles) east of Damascus, when fighter jets struck, activists and residents said.
Video footage taken by activists showed the bodies of two young girls, one wearing purple, the other red, on the street in the village, with wounds to their neck and head. A sobbing woman picked up one of the girls up and hugged her lifeless body.
Another two dead boys, hit in the head and face, were shown on the backseat of a car. Men picked up the bodies of two other children while a larger body lay next to the front wheel of a vehicle.
"None of those killed were older than 15 years old. There are two women among 15 people wounded, mostly hit as they were inside the courtyards of their houses," said Abu Kassem, an activist in the village told Reuters.
"There were no fighters inside Deir al-Asafir when the bombing occurred. They operate on the outskirts. This was indiscriminate bombing," he said.
Abu Kassem said the munitions dropped by the fighter jets were cluster bombs. Other footage showed a row of what appeared to be unexploded small bombs.
"We collected 70 of these so far," one man said.
Syria has barred most reporters from the country making it hard to verify the report.
Syrian authorities made no comment on the report, but official media have said the army has been on the offensive to "cleanse" the area of what the government calls terrorists.
Earlier this month, the U.N. political affairs chief told the Security Council of credible reports that the Syrian military has used cluster bombs in fighting the 20-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's autocratic rule.
The Syrian army has denied a Human Rights Watch report issued in October that Assad's forces have used cluster bombs, saying it did not possess such weapons.
Cluster bombs are banned under a 2010 U.N. treaty, though Syria, like Israel, Russia and the United States have not signed the pact. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Jon Hemming)