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Increase in Incendiary Weapon Attacks
Human Right Watch
HD Broadcast Quality
(Geneva, December 12, 2016) – The mounting use of incendiary weapons, which cause horrific wounds to civilians, should prompt countries to strengthen the law restricting them, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today at a diplomatic meeting about these and other weapons.

The 24-page report, “Time to Act against Incendiary Weapons,” documents civilian harm from incendiary weapons used in Syria since 2012, focusing on their increased use during the past year’s joint operations by Syrian government and Russian forces.
1. SOUNDBITE: Bonnie Docherty, Arms Researcher, Human Rights Watch,
November 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusettes (ENGLISH) Incendiary weapons
are weapons that create fire and heat through the chemical reaction of a flammable
substance. // Incendiary weapons cause excruciatingly painful burns that cut through
flesh, muscle, ligaments, tendons, all the way to the bone. //Human Rights Watch has
documented the use of incendiary weapons in a number of countries in recent years.
// Most notably in Syria where there’s been widespread use particularly over the past
year. // Those weapons have landed on civilian areas and villages, as well as on
hospitals burning them to the ground. // The Convention on Conventional Weapons
has two loopholes regarding incendiary weapons. First, the definition is too narrow. It
only covers weapons whose primary purpose is to burn or set fires and thus excludes
weapons like white phosphorus that have incendiary effects and cause equally
painful burns and injuries. // Strengthening the treaty is important because it creates
stronger obligations on countries that have joined the treaty. It also increases the
stigma against the use of incendiary weapons and thus influences countries that
aren’t party to the treaty as well as non-state armed groups. // Countries should
immediately condemn the use of incendiary weapons and in December, set aside
time in 2017 to revisit the Convention and strengthen existing law.
2. SOUNDBITES: Steve Goose, Director of Arms Division, Human Rights Watch in
New York, New York on November 19, 2012 (ENGLISH):
It’s become increasingly clear that the existing international law under the Convention
on Conventional Weapons has not been working. // The other sort of absurd aspect is
that there is a total prohibition on the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons in
populated areas, but there is no such comprehensive prohibition on the use of
ground-delivered incendiary weapons.
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