Amnesty International verifies use of cluster bombs by Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Amnesty International has verified the use of banned cluster bombs by Armenia for the first time in the current Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, following an attack on the city of Barda in Azerbaijan.

On Thursday, at approximately 1.30pm local time, one or more rockets from a Russian supplied BM-30 Smerch system were fired into Barda, striking a residential neighbourhood close to a hospital. The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office has stated that at least 21 people were killed, with an estimated 70 more injured.

Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts verified pictures (taken by Vice News reporters in the city) of fragments of 9N235 cluster munitions from Russian-made 9M55 Smerch rockets, that appear to have been fired into the city by Armenian forces.

“The firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Smerch is a multiple-launch rocket system is able to fire salvoes of unguided missiles. Such a weapon, which first appeared in the 1980s, has limited use today against fast moving and evasive military targets on a modern battlefield, and is generally considered as a "terror" weapon.

In 2014 the same system was used in Syria to fire cluster munitions into towns and villages with devastating effect.

Barda, a small city of 41,000 people, is the capital of the Barda Rayon in Azerbaijan, and has a history dating back to the 4th century a.d.

Video shows live firing of Armenian Smerch systems in 2017.

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