by WorldTribune Staff, September 21, 2016
Russian planes bombed an aid convoy and warehouse belonging to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, killing 20 civilians, American officials said on Sept. 20.
“All the evidence we have points to that conclusion,” one of the officials told CNN.
The aid convoy was traveling in the area of Urum al-Kubra, west of Aleppo, on Sept. 19 when it was attacked. The United Nations responded by suspending its aid operations in Syria.
“We hold the Russian government responsible for airstrikes in this space, given that their commitment under the cessation of hostilities was to certainly ground air operations where humanitarian assistance is flowing,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said on Sept. 20.
Anti-Assad rebels reportedly hold the area where the convoy was struck.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Sept. 20 that analysis of video footage of the strike show that rebels were following the convoy, according to the Russian state news site TASS.
“It is clearly seen in the video that a terrorists’ pickup truck with a towed large-caliber mortar is moving along with the convoy,” he said.
Based on reports on the ground and after reviewing classified radar, signals and aerial surveillance intelligence, the U.S. military concluded that only Russian warplanes were in position to attack the location when it happened, one U.S. official told CNN.
The official added that it appears reports from the ground that there were at least two waves of airstrikes were accurate. Military analysts say the tactic is a common Russian military practice.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the attack “sickening, savage and apparently deliberate. Just when we think it cannot get any worse, the power of depravity sinks lower.”
The director of the Red Crescent’s Urum al-Kubra branch, Omar Barakat, was also killed in the airstrike, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
The aid was intended for eastern Aleppo, where an estimated 250,000 civilians have been short of food, medicine and water, CNN repoted.