The Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries yesterday denied reports that it was dropping cluster bombs on the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri told AFP that the alliance “denies using cluster bombs in Sanaa.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report stating the coalition had used cluster bombs on 6 January.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the use such munitions would constitute a “war crime”.
He described HRW’s report as “very weak” adding “they didn’t show any evidence”.
The coalition did not possess the specific munitions detailed in the report, Ban said, adding that 90 per cent of the coalition’s operations were directed against Scud missile launchers.
“You cannot use a cluster bomb against Scud launchers,” he said.
Asiri said the coalition has admitted to previously using CBU-105 cluster bombs against rebel vehicles; however he added “now they don’t have any more vehicles so we don’t use it”.
HRW did not communicate with the coalition during the preparation of its report, he said, adding: “I think they are collecting information from the rebels.”
Cluster bombs contain multiple submunitions, which sometimes do not explode and become de facto landmines that can kill or maim long after they were dropped.
The weapons are prohibited by a 2008 treaty adopted by 116 countries, Saudi Arabia, its coalition partners, and the United States did not signed up to the agreement.