September 20, 2016 – Fort Russ News –
RIA Novosti – translated by J. Arnoldski –
The UN has reported that its humanitarian convoy en route to two residential areas in the Aleppo and Homs provinces was bombed. The International Red Cross Committee has confirmed the death of one volunteer and 20 civilians.
Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN has accused Syrian government forces of bombing the convoy. The US State Department has since stated that they will “reconsider the prospects of cooperation with Russia on Syria.”
The Kremlin has called accusations against Moscow and Damascus unfounded and the Ministry of Defense that the Russian and Syrian air forces did not launch any airstrike against the humanitarian convoy.
On Monday, the UN announced the shipment of humanitarian aid to two residential areas in the provinces of Aleppo and Homs. The convoy was marked with the UN emblem and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Permission to pass was received from both Damascus and the armed opposition. The convoy was carrying aid for 78,000 people, including blankets and basic necessities.
However, near Urum al-Kubra, northwest of Aleppo, the convoy was bombed. 18 of the 31 trucks came under fire. “At the present moment, we can confirm the death of one of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s employees. But we are still assessing the information and have different figures,” RIA Novosti was told by the International Federation of the Red Cross’ (IFRC) press secretary, Benoit Carpentier.
Carpentier added that it was the IFRC’s division director responsible for the operation that was killed. Later it became known that the victims of the bombing included at least 20 civilians.
A warehouse and Syrian Red Crescent hospital also came under fire. After the attack, the IFRC decided to postpone the delivery of humanitarian aid to four Syrian cities.
As RIA Novosti was told by the Bureau for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Lerche, the UN has reported the shelling to Russia and the US and is counting on an investigation to be launched.
Saudi Arabia has blamed the strike on the humanitarian convoy on Syrian government forces. A similar position has been echoed by the US State Department.
According to Secretary of State John Kerry, “the Russians should exercise their influence on Assad who is obviously indiscriminately bombing everything, including humanitarian convoys.”
However, Kerry recognized that Washington “does not have all the facts on this issue” and urged for new information to be awaited.
“The United States will raise the issue with Russia. Given flagrant violations of the ceasefire, we will reconsider the prospects of cooperation with Russia,” the State Department head stated.
Russian presidential press-secretary Dmitry Peskov has remarked that that there is an “extremely tense situation with the ceasefire in Syria” and recalled that Syrian soldiers were the only units that complied with the ceasefire. The defense ministry has emphasized that neither Russian nor Syrian air forces launched any airstrikes on the UN humanitarian convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo.
“What’s more, due to the fact that the convoy’s route was passing through the territory controlled by militants, the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Warring Sides in Syria supported the convoy with UAV monitoring”, the official representative of the ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, stated.
According to him, at around 13:40 on Monday, the entire humanitarian load was safely delivered, after which the Center for Reconciliation stopped monitoring the convoy and its further movement was not tracked by the Russian side.
Konashenkov added that an analysis of the video from the scene of events showed no signs of the column’s shelling, such as craters or typical damage to vehicles. He remarked that all that was demonstrated in the video footage resembles the direct consequence of a cargo fire.
Who started the fire and why “can only be answered as always ‘coincidentally’ by those who turn out in the right time in the right place with video cameras – those representatives of the ‘White Helmets’ organization close to Jebat al-Nusra,” the defense ministry’s official representative concluded.