BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 1, 2015 – Sources inside Syria are saying that Russian warplanes appear to be dropping banned cluster bombs on civilian targets in Homs and other areas where airstrikes have been conducted in the last several days.
Video of the attacks show them to be both largely inaccurate and indiscriminate, using “dumb” unguided gravity bombs with targeting technology that is at least 30 years old.
More chillingly, the widespread use of cluster bombs by the Russians is reminiscent of the Syria regime’s own indiscriminate attacks on civilians by terrorizing them with barrel bombs dropped from helicopters and cluster bombs that release hundreds of explosive bomblets intentionally designed to inflict random casualties.
Surprisingly, it also suggests a weakness in Russian technology compared to American munitions, which are laser-guided and highly accurate, and an inability of the Russian air force to display capabilities in bombing accuracy that have implications for Russian military tactics elsewhere.
As a tactical practicality, Russia continues to rely on unguided weapons for air-to-ground attacks, failing to invest the billions the Unites States has in precision munitions and aerial sensors to guide them.
The Center for Analysis of Strategies and Tactics, a Moscow think tank, has openly criticized the Kremlin for its “strange” and “unacceptable” failure to develop satellite-guided bombs and new long-range precision air-to ground missile systems, as well as the targeting systems to direct them.
“Russian air force bombers and tactical fighters rely on air-to-surface targeting technology that is 30 years old,” Alexander Mladenov, a Russian aviation expert, pointed out in Combat Aircraft magazine.
The use of cluster bombs, which has been banned by over 100 countries, and is no longer utilized by the United States, is considered a war crime for its indiscriminate nature and impact on civilians.
Russia is one of a few countries that continue to produce and deploy cluster bombs on a wide scale, and their use in this conflict, mimicking the strategies of the Assad regime, threatens civilian lives on a large scale.
Daily Mail UK reports that Russia’s defense ministry has said that it has struck an ISIS training camp near the village of Maadan Jadid, 45 miles east of Raqqa city and “a camouflaged command post at Kasrat Faraj’ southwest of the city.”