Iraqi soldiers first coined the name ‘steel rain’ to describe cluster bombs in the Kuwait War of 1991. In the 2003 conflict, the USA and the UK dropped nearly 13,000 cluster munitions, containing an estimated 1.8 to 2 million submunitions within 3 weeks of combat. Cluster bomb strikes were a major cause of civilian casualties with hundreds of civilian deaths and injuries around the country. There were 1,000 civilians injured and 1,000 civilians killed by cluster bombs in the six months following the end of the war.
While the number of cluster bombs used is daunting, the fact that they were used extensively in populated areas is equally disturbing. In the case of the US, cluster strikes in populated areas were often made using radar to remotely hone in on targets, without any visual confirmation whether civilians were present in the target area.