CAIRO, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- A military official in Cairo questioned suggestions that cluster munitions uncovered in Syria were manufactured by an Egyptian company.
Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Khalaf, an adviser at the country's Nasser Higher Military Academy, told news agency al-Ahram he was surprised by a report from Human Rights Watch that stated Egyptian-made cluster bombs were uncovered in Syria.
"Egypt openly hosts and supports the Syrians opposition, so how can it be accused of supporting this brutal regime? Egypt was the first nation that made initiatives to resolve the conflict," he was quoted as saying. "We would be contradicting ourselves."
Human Rights Watch said it uncovered evidence that Syrian forces were using 122mm cluster munitions that bear markings from Egypt's state-owned Arab Organization for Industrialization and private company Sakr Factory for Development Industries.
The advocacy group said their evidence suggests December and early January attacks on civilian targets mark the first time pro-government forces used ground-based cluster munitions.
"Syria is escalating and expanding its use of cluster munitions, despite international condemnation of its embrace of this banned weapon," said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. "It is now resorting to a notoriously indiscriminate type of cluster munition that gravely threatens civilian populations."
The rights organization made no statements criticizing the Egyptian government or the companies allegedly linked to the cluster munitions.