Beirut: Human Rights Watch accused the Syrian regime and its ally Russia on Thursday of extensively using banned cluster munitions in their offensive against rebels in the war-torn country.
The New York-based watchdog said it had documented 47 cluster munition attacks that killed and injured dozens of civilians in rebel-held areas in three provinces since May 27.
Many of these attacks took place north and west of Aleppo, as Russia-backed regime forces sought to besiege the opposition-controlled part of the northern city, it said.
Russia in September launched a campaign of air strikes in support of Bashar al-Assad`s regime.
"Since Russia and Syria have renewed their joint air operations, we have seen a relentless use of cluster munitions," said Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at HRW.
"The Russian government should immediately ensure that neither its forces nor Syria`s use this inherently indiscriminate weapon," he said.
HRW in December said it had documented the use of cluster munitions on 20 occasions since Russia launched air strikes on September 30.
"Although Russia and Syria are not members of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, they are still bound by international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, which prohibits indiscriminate attacks," HRW said.
Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of bomblets and are fired in rockets or dropped from the air.
Widely banned, they spread explosives over large areas and are indiscriminate in nature, often continuing to maim and kill long after the initial attack when previously unexploded bomblets detonate.
More than 280,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.