Date
23 January 2017
A damaged UN aid truck lies on the road after an airstrike on the rebel-held Urm al-Kubra town in western Aleppo. Photo: Reuters
A damaged UN aid truck lies on the road after an airstrike on the rebel-held Urm al-Kubra town in western Aleppo. Photo: Reuters

Russia blamed for attack on Syria aid convoy

The United States is accusing Russia of bombing an aid convoy near Aleppo, shattering a fragile week-old Syrian ceasefire.

Reuters is reporting that diplomats from both sides are scrambling to save the US-Russia truce which took effect on Sept. 12.

The incident, in which 18 trucks from a 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed, looked likely to deal a deadly blow to diplomatic efforts to halt a civil war now in its sixth year.

Two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes were in the skies above the aid convoy at the exact time it was struck late on Monday, two US officials told Reuters, citing US intelligence that led them to conclude Russia was to blame.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman denied the assertion, telling reporters at the United Nations the U.S. administration “has no facts” to support the claim.

“We have nothing to do with this situation,” she said.

Earlier Russia, which denied its aircraft or those of its Syrian government allies were involved, had said it believed the convoy was not struck from the air at all but had caught fire because of some incident on the ground.

The Syrian Red Crescent said the head of one of its local offices and “around 20 civilians” had been killed, although other death tolls differed.

The attack prompted the UN to suspend all aid shipments into Syria.

Senior officials from 23 nations emerged from a one-hour meeting on Syria at a New York luxury hotel with little more than an agreement to meet again on Friday about how to end a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and driven millions from their homes.

They also differed on the chances of renewing the ceasefire.

“The ceasefire is not dead,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said after the meeting, which he hosted with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

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CG/RA

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