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HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

FILE - Cluster munitions can release hundreds of bomblets over a wide area. Not all explode after hitting the ground, posing a landmine-like danger. (CMC)

Human Rights Watch said Sunday it has "credible" evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has used outlawed U.S.-supplied cluster bombs in Yemen.

The bombs are built to explode in mid-air and spread smaller bombs across a large area. They can pose a grave danger to civilians, especially when the small bombs fall to the ground unexploded. Children often mistake the bombs for toys.

The human rights group said it has seen video and photographs of the bombs being used against Houthi rebels in Saada in northwestern Yemen.

Human Rights Watch says it has no information on casualties from the cluster bombs.

But the group's arms director, Steve Goose, said, "These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members, and the supplier, the U.S., are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians."

Saudi military officials deny using cluster bombs.

A Pentagon official told the French News Agency that the U.S. requires recipients of American cluster bomb exports to commit themselves not to use the weapons in areas where civilians live.

The official says the Pentagon takes all civilian deaths in Yemen very seriously and is looking carefully at the Human Rights Watch report.

A 2008 global treaty banned the use of cluster bombs, but Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Yemen did not sign it.