Monday 23 April 2018

Russian planes 'targeted UN aid convoy in revenge for Syria air strike'

The aftermath of a Russian airstrike in Aleppo earlier this year. Photo: Getty
The aftermath of a Russian airstrike in Aleppo earlier this year. Photo: Getty

Con Coughlin London

Russia was directly involved in the bombing of a UN aid convoy on the outskirts of Aleppo in a "revenge" attack for an earlier air strike that killed 60 Syrian soldiers, according to senior coalition officials.

Eyewitnesses on the ground reported seeing a number of Russian surveillance aircraft circling overhead before the aid convoy was struck by a series of missiles fired by warplanes, killing an estimated 20 civilians and destroying 18 UN trucks carrying vital humanitarian supplies to besieged rebel areas.

In a further suggestion of Russian involvement in the attack, its defence ministry said the convoy had been accompanied by a militants' pick-up truck armed with a heavy mortar gun, Russian news agencies reported.

The ministry uploaded to YouTube what it claimed was drone footage of the convoy which showed "new details" about the incident.

Russia, a key ally of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, denied any involvement in the attack, which took place after the 31-truck convoy had parked in a compound to deliver vital supplies to rebel-held areas outside Aleppo.

The Syrian military also denied involvement.

But senior coalition officials last night said they had evidence of Russian involvement in the attack, claiming it was launched in response to a coalition air strike in eastern Syria at the weekend, in which an RAF Reaper drone took part, which killed 60 Syrian soldiers.

"All the evidence suggests the Russians were involved in bombing the aid convoy as an act of revenge for the coalition air strike at the weekend which killed 60 Syria soldiers," said a senior coalition official. "If this can be proved, then the Russians could find themselves facing war crimes charges."

The missiles and warplanes used in the attack were the same as those used by the Russians to attack rebel positions.

Coalition officials also rejected Russian claims their aircraft deliberately targeted Syrian troops last weekend. "We gave the Russians details of the area we were targeting but they failed to tell us there were Syrian government forces in the area." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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