(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- An international human rights watchdog group is accusing Syria of using powerful Russia-made cluster bombs against its own civilians.
Human Rights Watch is alleging that the cluster bombs, which release smaller submunitions over a wide area to maximize their killing power, landed on the northwestern town of Maarat al-Numan after being dropped from Syrian planes and helicopters.
The use of these bombs, which are banned by over 100 countries because of the harm they pose to civilians, was apparently to take back control of the town, which fell into rebel hands last week.
Maarat al-Numan is a strategic stronghold since it lies between Damascus and Syria's largest city of Aleppo.
Human Rights Watch considers the cluster bomb-attacks in civilian populated areas a war crime.
Syria, along with its allies Russia and China, did not sign an international pact agreeing not to use cluster bombs.
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