THE Syrian government has used internationally-banned cluster munitions in attacks on a besieged rebel-held suburb of Damascus, committing war crimes on “an epic scale”, Amnesty International has said.

Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb north-east of the Syrian capital, has been under siege since 2013 and is already facing a humanitarian crisis, including the highest recorded malnutrition rate since the conflict began in 2011.

Some 400,000 civilians, half of them children, are believed to be trapped there.

Based on interviews with activists and verification of open source videos and photographs, Amnesty said at least 10 civilians were killed in November because of the government’s use of the banned Soviet-made cluster munitions.

The weapons, banned in more than 100 countries, gravely endanger civilians because of their indiscriminate nature.

“The Syrian government has shown callous disregard to the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people living in Eastern Ghouta,” said Amnesty’s Philip Luther.

“But this recent escalation in attacks – clearly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure using internationally banned cluster munitions – is horrific.”

Amnesty said the cluster munitions first appeared in Syria after Russia began strikes against anti-government groups in September 2015.