Saturday 23 September 2017

Aleppo aid attack: UN confirms air strike killed 20 people despite Russian claims

Much of the fighting in Syria is centred on the city of Aleppo (AP)
Much of the fighting in Syria is centred on the city of Aleppo (AP)

Lizzie Deardon

United Nations analysis of satellite imagery has proven an air strike destroyed an aid convoy taking aid to besieged parts of Aleppo, despite Russian claims that the lorries may have accidentally caught fire or been hit by a raebel mortar.

At least 20 people were killed in the attack near the northern Syrian city, which incinerated a joint UN. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy.

The US swiftly said Russian aircraft were thought to be responsible but the Kremlin denied the accusations and floated several alternative scenarios, which were dismissed by experts.

“With our analysis we determined it was an air strike and I think multiple other sources have said that as well,” Lars Bromley, research adviser at UNOSAT said on Wednesday.

Fresh fighting has broken out in the Syrian city of Aleppo, according to reports
Fresh fighting has broken out in the Syrian city of Aleppo, according to reports

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is establishing an internal UN board of inquiry to investigate the attack and urged all parties to fully cooperate.

Previous analysis of debris found at the site of the attack on 19 September uncovered fragments of what appeared to by Russian fragmentation bombs.

American officials said two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 jets were in the skies at the exact time of the strike, following footage broadcast live by Russia Today showing a military drone monitoring the convoy's progress.

But Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia's defence ministry, initially said there was no evidence the lorries had been struck by "ordnance".

He claimed damage visible in footage was caused by the cargo catching fire, suggesting the convoy could be carrying militant weapons and seeking to implicate the \Nobel Prize-nominated White Helmets group of rescue volunteers.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has accused Bashar al-Assad's government and its allies, including Russia, of presiding over a "ghastly avalanche of violence and destruction" in rebel-held districts of Aleppo.

Syrians watch a burning car among damaged buildings after air strikes in Aleppo (White Helmets/AP)
Syrians watch a burning car among damaged buildings after air strikes in Aleppo (White Helmets/AP)

“The attacks over the past ten days have been the most intense the inhabitants of eastern Aleppo have endured since the conflict began, and not a single neighbourhood is now considered safe," he said, specifically reminding Russia of its obligations under international weapons conventions.

"All seem to indicate that the ongoing operations are conducted in complete disregard for the most basic standards of international humanitarian law..the current operation by the Syrian Government and its allies appears to be intended to force the surrender of fighters in eastern Aleppo by any means necessary."

Independent News Service

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