09/21/2016, 10.22
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Russia: The aid convoy "burned", not "hit" by a raid

United States, Red Cross and militias accuse Moscow and Syria.  Russia claims it is yet another publicity stunt by Al Nusra Front. Kerry and Lavrov grapple to save the truce. Ban Ki-moon accuses all sides, but especially the Syrian government


New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Russian Defense Ministry has denied allegations that an aid convoy in Urum al-Kubra, near Aleppo was hit by a Russian or Syrian air strike, saying instead that the convoy was burned.

However, the US maintains the convoy was hit by two Russian aircraft, in an attack that abruptly ended the fragile truce that has lasted little less than a week.

In the incident, which took place September 19, 18 trucks of a 31 truck convoy were destroyed. At least 20 people died, as well as a representative of the Arab Red Crescent. Because of this, the United Nations yesterday suspended all aid transport.

The United States, the Red Cross and the United Nations said the attack was "an air strike", as it took place while Russian Sukhoi SU-24 jets were flying above the skies of Aleppo. Later, however, the UN corrected its statement, removing the phrase "air attack" with a more generic "attack". The spokesman for UN humanitarian Aid, Jens Laerke, said that the UN was not in a position to determine precisely whether the convoy was hit by an air strike or an "attack".

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said that "we have studied the video images of the scene, filmed by so-called 'activists' and we found no evidence that the convoy was hit [by a raid]". He points out that "there are no craters" caused by bombs and that the vehicles do not have the typical damage caused by bombs falling from above.

The visible damage is typical of a fire, which "oddly" occurred at the same time when rebel militias linked to Al Nusra Front began a new major offensive in Aleppo.

Konashenkov also ironically commented how the "White Helmets", a humanitarian organization linked to al-Nusra Front, were "by chance in the right place, at the right time, with their cameras."

Only they - he said - "know who is responsible."

The irony is due to the "White Helmets" propaganda, showing the "cruelty" of Russians and Syrians, and "innocence" of the militias.

The controversy and the passing on of responsibility takes place a few hours from a UN Security Council meeting on Syria.

On the sidelines of the UN in New York, diplomats are trying to save an agreed truce between the US and Russia and supported by the army Syrian shortly before the accident. Another truce last week, was undermined by various violations.

John Kerry, US Secretary of State, speaking to the Foreign Minister of the Russian side insisted that the cease-fire "is not dead." Even President Barack Obama has declared that there will be  "no military victory " and that the "hard work" of diplomacy must continue.

UN General Assembly, Ban Ki-moon Secretary had harsh words for those who support the various groups in the Syrian conflict, accusing them of having "blood on their hands." But he had even harsher words for Damascus: “Many groups have killed many innocents, but none more so than the government of Syria which continues to barrel bomb neighborhoods and systematically torture thousands of detainees".

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