The Saudi-led Arab coalition used US-supplied, banned cluster munitions to conduct airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebel forces in Yemen, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has revealed.
Presenting photographs, video and other evidence that have emerged since mid-April, the watchdog claimed cluster munitions were used in recent weeks in coalition airstrikes in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, which is the traditional Houthi stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia.
After analysing a video uploaded on 17 April by the pro-Houthi September 21 YouTube channel showing numerous objects with parachutes slowly descending from the sky, HRW alleged the weapons appeared to land on a cultivated plateau in al-Shaaf in Saqeen, in the western part of Saada governorate.
Human Rights Watch arms director Steve Goose said: "Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger.
"These weapons should never be used under any circumstances.
"Saudi Arabia and other coalition members and the supplier, the US, are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians."
The watchdog also posted several photographs taken by a Saada resident on 17 April at the site of an airstrike in the al-Amar area of al-Safraa, located 30km south of the city, which show remnants of two CBU-105 sensor fused weapons built by Textron Systems and supplied to Saudi Arabia and the UAE by the US in recent years.
One photograph shows an empty BLU-108 delivery canister, while the second shows a BLU-108 canister with four submunitions still attached to it.
Since 26 March, a Saudi-led coalition including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan and the UAE conducted numerous airstrikes across Yemen against Houthi forces, which ousted the government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi in January 2015.
Saudi Arabia denied using cluster munitions in Yemen soon after the start of offensive.
Containing hundreds of submunitions that explode after spreading out over a wide area, cluster munitions pose long-term dangers to civilians and are prohibited by a 2008 treaty adopted by 116 countries, excluding Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the US.
Image: An expended BLU-108 canister from a CBU-105 sensor fused weapon found in the al-Amar area of al-Safraa, Saada governorate in northern Yemen on 17 April. Photo: © 2015 Human Rights Watch.