MOSCOW, July 25 (RIA Novosti) – The use of Grad rockets in populated areas in Ukraine during fighting violates conflict laws and may constitute war crimes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday.
“The use of indiscriminate rockets in populated areas violates international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, and may amount to war crimes,” HRW said commenting on the Ukrainian crisis.
According to the organization, unguided Grad rockets, used by Ukrainian government forces, have killed at least 16 civilians and injured many more in the four attacks between July 12 and 21.
HRW accused both the Ukrainian government and independence supporters of using Grad rockets and condemned those actions.
“Grad rockets are notoriously imprecise weapons that shouldn’t be used in populated areas,” Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch said. “If insurgent and Ukrainian government forces are serious about limiting harm to civilians, they should both immediately stop using these weapons in populated areas.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross director of operations Dominik Stillhart also called on the warring sides in Ukraine to avoid dragging civilians into the conflict.
“Fighting in eastern Ukraine continues to take its toll on civilians, and we urge all sides to comply with international humanitarian law, otherwise known as the law of armed conflict,” he said. “These rules and principles apply to all parties to the noninternational armed conflict in Ukraine, and impose restrictions on the means and methods of warfare that they may use.”
On February 22 a government coup took place in Ukraine. Southeastern regions of the country refused to acknowledge the new Kiev government and proclaimed independence. The Ukrainian government then launched a military operation against the independence supporters.