General Myers, true to has word, looked into the reports of all those Iraqi civilians being killed by US cluster munitions, and got back to the press yesterday with the results: Head of Joint Chiefs defends use of cluster bombs in Iraq. Only 26 of the 1,500 or so cluster bombs we dropped in Iraq were dropped on civilian areas, according to Myers, and that was Saddam’s fault anyway, for locating military targets in civilian areas. According to Myers, there was only one (1) case of death or injury to a noncombatant due to a US cluster bomb.
Thankfully, LA Times reporter Greg Miller provides some context for readers who bother to read the whole article:
Myers’ assertions were challenged by human rights organizations, which said they had learned Friday of new injuries to civilians in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
Weapons experts also said Myers’ remarks are somewhat misleading because his account of the U.S. military’s use of cluster bombs does not cover similar weapons dispersed by rockets and ground artillery.
Because they are not dropped from airplanes, those weapons are not considered “cluster bombs” in Pentagon parlance, the experts said. Even so, they added, the weapons have a similar effect and, in many cases, higher “dud rates.”
“I’m hearing about a lot of surface-delivered cluster munitions in the suburbs,” said Mark Hiznay, senior researcher in the arms division of Human Rights Watch in Washington. “They’re hanging in the trees. They’re sitting on the ground.”
Human Rights Watch and other organizations, as well as doctors in Baghdad, have reported hundreds of casualties from cluster bombs or similar devices.