DEADLY SKIES: Opposition activists released video Saturday purporting to show Syrian government warplanes dropping cluster bombs over the rebel-held city of Yabroud, 75 kilometers northwest of Damascus in the Qalamoun mountain range.
“The MiG jet is dropping cluster bombs,” says the videographer, focusing the camera on darkly colored fragments falling over Yabroud.
The FSA’s Joint Military Leadership in Qalamoun released a statement Saturday alleging that government forces had deployed cluster bombs over the village of a-Sahel, north of Yabroud, in addition to “more than 20 barrel bombs, most of them in a-Sahel.” The group also claimed to have killed approximately 15 Hezbollah fighters on Saturday.
For its part, pro-regime Syrian daily al-Watan reported Sunday that the Syrian army had arrested “more than 30 terrorists and eliminated dozens more in and around Yabroud.”
Despite more than three weeks of heavy fighting and aerial bombardment, Syrian government and Hezbollah forces appear to have made little progress in advancing on Yabroud.
Yabroud is the last major rebel-held town in Syria’s strategic Qalamoun mountain range, which stretches along the country’s western border with Lebanon and contains a key stretch of the M5 highway connecting Damascus with the city of Homs in central Syria. It also holds key supply routes connecting rebel positions with sympathetic areas in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.
The allegations that the regime has used cluster bombs in Qalamoun come two weeks after Human Rights Watch reported that the Syrian government had launched an attack in Hama province using “a powerful type of cluster munition rocket not seen before in the conflict.” Cluster bombs are banned internationally by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, to which Syria is not a signatory.