• Incendiary weapons cause extremely painful and cruel injuries to both civilians and combatants alike that are difficult to treat. Theyalso start fires that can destroy civilian objects and infrastructure. Incendiary weapons have been used at great civilian cost in conflicts such as the one raging in Syria, where incendiary weapons attacks on populated areas including schools. More than 110 nations are party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Protocol III on Incendiary Weapons.

    Human Rights Watch urges that the incendiary weapons protocol be reviewed and strengthened by banning the use of all incendiary weapons in civilian areas and by broadening the definition in the protocol to cover white phosphorus.


  • Deliberate and Indiscriminate Air Strikes on Civilians
  • Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza
  • Laws of War Violations and the Use of Weapons on the Israel-Lebanon Border

Incendiary Weapons

  • Sep 24, 2014

    Tucked inside the continuing resolution the United States Congress passed late last week was a provision to authorize the training and equipping of “moderate, vetted” elements of the Syrian opposition. The CIA has been carrying out a covert, small-scale version of this program, according to media reports.

  • Nov 14, 2013
    Steve Goose, executive director of the arms division of Human Rights Watch, and Mary Wareham, coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and advocacy director of the arms division of Human Rights Watch, delivered statements on Fully Autonomous Weapons at Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Meeting of States Parties in Geneva.
  • Nov 11, 2013
    For weeks, the Syrian Air Force had been bombing the Damascus suburb of Daraya. But on the morning of Nov. 16, 2012, something was different.
  • Nov 11, 2013
    Incendiary weapons produce heat and fire through the chemical reaction of a flammable substance. These weapons cause extremely painful burns that are difficult to treat, and also start fires that can destroy objects and infrastructure. Field investigations, witness accounts, and videos and photos reviewed by Human Rights Watch indicate that the Syrian Air Force carried out at least 56 incendiary weapons attacks from November 2012 through September 2013. Human Rights Watch and the Violations Documentation Center in Syria have documented four separate incendiary weapons attacks that resulted in the deaths of at least 41 civilians and the wounding of 71 others.
  • Nov 10, 2013
    Syria should immediately stop using incendiary weapons, Human Rights Watch said today in a report which documents at least 56 attacks using the weapons since November 2012. Human Rights Watch will present its concerns at the annual meeting of the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva this week.
  • Aug 30, 2013
  • May 18, 2013
    Israel should strengthen an announced reduction of its military use of white phosphorus munitions by banning all use of “air-burst” white phosphorus munitions in populated areas without exception. Human Rights Watch has also urged all countries to make white phosphorus illegal when used as an incendiary weapon.
  • Apr 26, 2013
    New Syrian government air and missile strikes are causing high civilian casualties in opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo in violation of the laws of war. A Human Rights Watch team in northern Aleppo province has investigated recent attacks that killed scores of civilians and destroyed dozens of civilian homes without damaging any apparent opposition military targets.
  • Apr 16, 2013
    Life in Aleppo is not easy. People here have suffered from shortages of food, electricity and running water, and there has been little humanitarian assistance. The long, cold winter months were particularly rough. The only possible consolation was that there were fewer air strikes because of the cloudy, rainy weather. The government’s jets only seem to fly – and drop bombs – when the sky is blue.
  • Apr 10, 2013
    The Syrian Air Force has repeatedly carried out indiscriminate, and in some cases deliberate, air strikes against civilians. These attacks are serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war), and people who commit such violations with criminal intent are responsible for war crimes.