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US cannot confirm that Russia uses cluster munitions in Syria — State Department

December 30, 2015, 9:41 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry earlier told reporters that aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces that deliver airstrikes on terrorists in Syria use no cluster munitions
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© AP Photo/Human Rights Watch

WASHINGTON, December 30. /TASS/. The United States has no evidence that Russia uses cluster munitions in its air operation in Syria, deputy Spokesperson of the US Department of State Mark C. Toner told a briefing on Tuesday.

"We have consistently urged all sides of the conflict to take all feasible precautions to reduce risk of harm to civilians and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including with respect to protecting medical personnel and facilities. So without confirming that they’ve [Russia] used cluster munitions in airstrikes — or cluster munitions, we would urge them not to," Toner said.

Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters previously that aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces that deliver airstrikes on terrorists in Syria use no cluster munitions. "As the cluster bombs speculations, the Russian aviation is not using them," he said following the Human Rights Watch’s accusations that Russia was using cluster bombs in the territory of Syria and that peaceful civilians had been hurt.

On Sunday, Chief Commander of the Russian Aerospace Force Colonel General Viktor Bondarev said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television channel that the Russian pilots have never attacked civilian facilities in Syria. "I would like to say proudly that my pilots have not missed even once while they have been there, nor have they delivered strikes on "banned" facilities, the so-called sensitive locations — schools, hospitals, moths, other sacred places," he said.

The mission in Syria had been planned thoroughly, he continued. "We have trained the pilots, practiced cooperation with the local Syrian commanders and with our reconnaissance units," he said. "We verified where and who are: in which regions we could be working, where we should be top cautious."

"Thus, we have results, which you can see," the commander said adding from the very first time of the mission the Aerospace Force have informed the public openly on targets and results in Syria.

Since the beginning of the mission, the Aerospace Forces have carried out 5,240 sorties, including 145 made by the long-range aviation.

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