Cluster bombs were first used in World War II by German and Soviet forces. During the 1970s, the USA used massive numbers of cluster bombs in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. More recently, cluster bombs were used in the Gulf War, Chechnya, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Georgia. In 2012, they were used in Syria, where use has continued in 2013. Governments must place the protection of civilians at the core of their approach to the treaty, not the protection of unacceptable weapons. More countries must urgently join the global ban on cluster munitions. In joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions, states increase the stigmatization of use and production, helping to prevent possible harm to their own, and other citizens, by this weapon.


Cluster bombs have posed a deadly threat in every conflict in which they have been used and have repeatedly caused excessive harm to civilians. A list of countries and territories contaminated by cluster munition remnants is available here: The Problem.DotsA TIMELINE OF CLUSTER BOMB USE

  • 1943 USSR: Soviet forces use air-dropped cluster munitions against German armour. German forces use SD-1 and SD-2 butterfly bombs against artillery on the Kursk salient.
  • 1943 United Kingdom: German aircraft drop more than 1,000 SD-2 butterfly bombs on the port of Grimsby.
  • 1960s-1970s Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam: US forces make extensive use of cluster munitions in bombing campaigns. The ICRC estimates that in Laos alone, 9 to 27 million unexploded submunitions remain, and some 11,000 people have been killed or injured, more than 30 percent of them children. An estimate based on US military databases states that 9,500 sorties in Cambodia delivered up to 87,000 air-dropped cluster munitions.
  • 1973 Syria: Israel uses air-dropped cluster munitions against non-state armed group (NSAG) training camps near Damascus.
  • 1975-1988 Western Sahara: Moroccan forces use cluster munitions against NSAG.
  • 1978 Lebanon: Israel uses cluster munitions in southern Lebanon.
  • 1979-1989 Afghanistan: Soviet forces make use of air-dropped and rocket-delivered cluster munitions. NSAG also use rocket-delivered cluster munitions on a smaller scale.
  • 1982 Lebanon: Israel uses cluster munitions against Syrian forces and NSAG in Lebanon.
  • 1982 Falkland Islands (Malvinas): UK aircraft drop cluster munitions on Argentinean infantry positions near Port Stanley, Port Howard, and Goose Green.
  • 1986-1987 Chad: French aircraft drop cluster munitions on a Libyan airfield at Wadi Doum. Libyan forces also used AO-1SCh and PTAB-2.5 submunitions.
  • 1991 Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia: The US and its allies (France, Saudi Arabia, UK) drop 61,000 cluster bombs containing some 20 million submunitions. The number of cluster munitions delivered by surface-launched artillery and rocket systems during the Gulf War is not known, but an estimated 30 million or more DPICM submunitions were used in the conflict.
  • 1992-1994 Angola: PTAB submunitions found in various locations.
  • 1992-1994 Nagorno-Karabakh: Submunition contamination has been identified in at least 162 locations. Submunition types cleared by deminers include PTAB-1, ShOAB-0.5, AO-2.5.
  • 1992-1995 Bosnia & Herzegovina: Forces of Yugoslavia and NSAG use available stocks of cluster munitions during civil war. NATO aircraft drop two CBU-87 bombs.
  • 1992-1997 Tajikistan: Use by unknown forces in civil war. ShOAB and AO-2.5RT submunitions have been found in the town of Gharm in the Rasht Valley.
  • 1994-1996 Chechnya: Russian forces use cluster munitions against NSAG.
  • 1995 Croatia: On May 2-3, 1995, an NSAG uses Orkan M-87 multiple rocket launchers to attack civilians in Zagreb. Additionally, the Croatian government claimed that Serb forces used BL-755 bombs in Sisak, Kutina, and along the Kupa River.
  • 1996-1999 Sudan: Sudanese government forces use air-dropped cluster munitions in southern Sudan, including Chilean made PM-1 submunitions.
  • 1997 Sierra Leone: Nigerian ECOMOG peacekeepers use Beluga bombs on the eastern town of Kenema.
  • 1998 Colombia: The Colombian Air Force used a cluster munition in Santo Domingo, a village in the department of Arauca. In 2009, Colombia disclosed that previously it had used cluster munitions on other occasions to attack airfields used by drug traffickers.
  • 1998 Ethiopia / Eritrea: Ethiopia and Eritrea exchange aerial cluster munition strikes, Ethiopia attacking the Asmara airport and Eritrea attacking the Mekele airport. Ethiopia also dropped BL-755 bombs in Gash-Barka province of western Eritrea.
  • 1998-1999 Albania: Yugoslav forces launch cross-border rocket attacks and NATO forces carry out six aerial cluster munition strikes.
  • 1998-2003 DR Congo: BL-755 bombs used by unknown forces in Kasu village in Kabalo territory.
  • 1999 Yugoslavia (including Serbia, Montenegro,and Kosovo): The US, UK, and Netherlands drop 1,765 cluster bombs, containing 295,000 bomblets.
  • 2001- 2002 Afghanistan: The US drops 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 bomblets.
  • Unknown Uganda: RBK-250/275 bombs and AO-1SCh submunitions found in the northern district of Gulu.
  • 2003-2006 Iraq: The US and UK use nearly 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimated 1.8 to 2 million submunitions in the three weeks of major combat. A total of 63 CBU-87 bombs were dropped by US aircraft between May 1, 2003 and August 1, 2006.
  • 2006 Lebanon: Israeli forces use surface-launched and air-dropped cluster munitions against Hezbollah. The UN estimates that Israel used up to 4 million submunitions.
  • 2006 Israel: Hezbollah fires more than 100 Chinese-produced Type-81 122mm cluster munition rockets into northern Israel.
  • 2008 Georgia: Russia uses several types of cluster munitions, both air- and ground-launched, in a number of locations in Georgia’s Gori district. Also Georgia uses cluster munitions in the August 2008 conflict with Russia.
  • 2011 Cambodia: Thailand uses cluster munitions on Cambodian territory during a border conflict in February 2011.  More information here.
  • 2011 Libya: Gaddafi’s forces use cluster munitions in Misrata, Libya.  More information here.
  • 2012 and 2013 Syria: There has been documented and widespread use of cluster munition in Syria, by the Syrian government, with more than 150 cluster bomb attacks in at least 119 locations across Syria in the period from August 2012 through mid-February 2013, according to CMC member organisation, Human Rights Watch. See the CMC page on Syria for further details.

In addition, unconfirmed reports cite use of cluster munitions in Pakistan, Slovenia, Turkey, Sudan, as weel as in the territory of Kashmir.