Russia has admitted to using thermobaric bombs in its attacks on Ukraine, a Russian counterpart confirmed to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense on Wednesday.
The Russian TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrower weapon system allows tanks to fire rockets with thermobaric warheads, the ministry explained in a video it tweeted. The weapons create a high-temperature explosion when detonated by sucking the oxygen out of the surrounding air.
“The impact of the TOS-1A is devastating,” the ministry said in the video. “It can destroy infrastructure, and cause significant damage to internal organs and flash burns, resulting in death to those exposed.”
While international law heavily regulates the use of thermobaric bombs, they are not outright banned, Forbes reported. The weapon systems are not allowed to be used against civilians, or military targets that could endanger the civilian population, under the Geneva Convention.
Russia is believed to have used the weapons in Syria, as well as its campaign against Grozny, the Chechen capital, in late 1999 and early 2000, Forbes reported. Separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine have also been accused of using them since 2014.
Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared separatist-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine independent. Putin has claimed the deployment of troops is an effort to achieve the “denazification” of its neighbor.
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