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Morsi mum on reports that Egyptian cluster bombs used by Syria

Special to

CAIRO — The regime of President Mohammed Morsi has remained silent
on reports that Egypt supplied cluster munitions to Syria.

The Morsi regime has refused to respond to a report by a U.S. human
rights group that the Syrian military was firing Egyptian-origin cluster
bombs. Human Rights Watch, quoting rebels and civilians, asserted that the
Syrian military fitted Egyptian cluster warheads on air-to-ground and
surface-to-surface rockets.

Human Rights Watch has accused Syria of using cluster bombs against rebels and in populated areas. The Syrian regime has insisted that cluster munitions are not a part of its arsenal. /AAP

“Any comment on this subject should come from a military official in the armed forces,” a Morsi aide said.

The aide told the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat that he did not expect
the Egyptian military to issue an immediate response to the HRW report. The unidentified aide said the report would require examination on what could mark a classified issue.

But Egyptian analysts, including retired commanders, said Cairo did
not produce cluster munitions. They also ruled out Egyptian military exports to either the regime of President Bashar Assad or the rebel movement.

“I am certain it does not manufacture cluster bombs or any other
internationally-banned explosive,” [Ret.] Egyptian Maj. Gen. Sameh Seif El Yazal said. “Egypt only makes conventional munitions in Arab Organization for Industrialization factories.”

Rebel sources said they could not confirm that Egypt supplied Syria with cluster munitions. They said Assad’s military acquired the munitions from
Iran and Russia in the 1990s, and that the Air Force began firing cluster
bombs toward rebel targets in November 2012.

For its part, HRW, with an office in Lebanon, said the organization
confirmed testimony of Assad’s use of Egyptian cluster bombs. The New
York-based group said it acquired photographs of the Egyptian munitions.

“Egypt is one of the countries that manufacture cluster bombs, and HRW
has already asked them to stop producing this kind of
internationally-prohibited weapon,” Nadim Houry, director of HRW’s Beirut
office, said.

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