Deadly Russian Flechette Projectiles Hit Homes In Ukraine
More than a month after the Ukrainian army retook Irpin from the Russians, Volodymyr Klimashevskyi is still finding the little nail-like projectiles scattered around his garden and embedded deep in the walls of his house.
Photo Insert: Flechette projectiles are banned from being used in civilian areas.
"You can't take them out with your hands, you need to use pliers," Klimashevskyi said, pointing to the wall dotted with the dark darts, Ivana Kottasová, Oleksandra Ochman, and David von Blohn reported for CNN.
Called flechettes -- French for "little arrows" -- these razor-sharp, inch-long projectiles are a brutal invention of World War I when the Allies used them to strike as many enemy soldiers as possible.
They are packed into shells that are fired by tanks. When the shell detonates, several thousands of the projectiles are sprayed over a large area.
Flechette shells are not banned, but their use in civilian areas is prohibited under humanitarian law, because of their indiscriminate nature. They cause severe damage as they rip through the body, twisting and bending -- and can be lethal.
The United States used them during the Vietnam War and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs accused the Israeli military of using them against civilians in 2010 in Gaza, according to a report by the US State Department.
But other than that, they have been rarely used in modern warfare. After Russian forces retreated from the towns and villages north of Kyiv that they had occupied in March, evidence emerged that they had been using them during their assault. Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv, isn't the only place where that evidence emerged.
In Andriivka, a village 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of Irpin, farmer Vadim Bozhko told CNN that he found flechettes along the road leading to his house. Bozhko and his wife hid in the basement as his home was shelled.
The darts were also found in the bodies of people who were killed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, said Liudmila Denisova, Ukraine's ombudsman for human rights. She noted last month that after the liberation of cities in the Kyiv region, new atrocities of Russian troops were revealed.
"Forensic experts found flechettes in the bodies of residents of Bucha and Irpin. The Russians launched shells with them and used them to bomb residential buildings," Denisova added. It is unclear whether the flechettes killed the victims or not.