Human Rights Watch has determined that Georgian cluster bombs used during the brief August war with Russia landed in at least nine Georgian towns, killing at least three civilians and littering the countryside with thousands of bomblets which could potentially kill and maim civilians for years to come.
Georgia’s Ministry of Defense says the accusation is “impossible” and that it only used cluster bombs in areas that were not “nearby/around civilian populated areas” during the war. But Human Rights Watch’s senior military analyst and former Pentagon official Marc Garlasco says the bombs malfunctioned on an “absolutely massive scale,” leaving bomblets in Georgian towns which in many cases were far from where Georgia admits to having used them.
The bombs were purchased by Georgia from an Israel company, identified as Israel Military Industries. The Israeli military also heavily used such bombs during its 2006 war in Lebanon, though apparently without the approval of the Israeli government.
A ban on the use of cluster munitions is due to be signed next month, but has faced major opposition from the US, Israel, and Russia (who also used cluster bombs during the August war), as well as India, China, and Brazil. A US delegation is seeking an alternative text which would be supported by “those countries that believe that cluster munitions are legitimate weapons.”