World / Middle East

Syrian army denies using cluster bombs

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-10-16 10:05

DAMASCUS - The Syrian army on Monday denied using cluster bombs in its fights against the armed opposition fighters, who seem to be more resourceful as media reports said they are now in possession of heat-seeking missiles.

The general command of the Syrian army said some misleading media outlets have recently spread "false reports" that the Syrian army is using cluster bombs in its fights against the "armed terrorist groups", a term used by the government to brand the rebels.

"Since the Syrian army is not in possession of such bombs, hence we stress that the news is totally baseless and aims to divert the public opinion from what the armed terrorist gangs are committing against the homeland and the citizens," the general command said.

The denial came against the a recent report by the Human Rights Watch citing activists' videos and testimonies that the Syrian army used those bombs in its offensives against the rebels in some areas.

Cluster bomb is an indiscriminate scattershot munition banned by most nations.

As the Syrian army is accused of using cluster bombs in battling the rebels, the New York Times published a report Monday, indicating that the armed rebels in Syria seem to be in possession of an old heat-seeking system known as the SA-7.

The paper cited a number of videos uploaded onto YouTube, showing rebels in possession of what appeared to be the SA-7.

The report said the videos' contents cannot be readily confirmed, but added that "they do appear authentic".

The New York Times also said most of the weapons that have been sent to the Syrian rebels are falling in the hands of the hard-line Islamic jihadists.

The Syrian government has for long accused the Arab Gulf states of supporting the armed rebels in Syria and said extremists are sneaking into the country and joining the fights against the Syrian troops.

The United Nations has recently admitted that foreign elements and extremists are operating in Syria.

As the 19-month-old crisis in Syria is still gaining momentum, UN-AL joint envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi called for a ceasefire in Syria next week during the four-day Muslim Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice.

Brahimi made the appeal Monday in the Iranian capital of Tehran, where he met with Iranian officials on the Syrian crisis.

The Algerian diplomat has toured a number of regional countries with influence in Syria in order to hammer out a solution to the simmering violence.

The state-run SANA news agency said scores of armed men have been killed by the Syrian army throughout Monday, while the opposition activists reported shelling by the government troops and clashes in several hotspots nationwide, placing the initial death toll at 50.

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-linked group, downed a Syrian helicopter in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour on Monday.

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